What matters most

15 08 2008

The success of every temptation that the devil brings against men depends upon their putting the object of the temptation above God in their affections. When Satan can convince you that some coveted object is better for you than the love and favor and presence of God, he has caught you in his trap. This is at the heart of every temptation: which is your greatest delight, God or the object of your lust?


Renowned Puritan preacher, Thomas Brooks, counseled every Christian to answer all temptations with this short saying: “The Lord is my portion.” This is very wise advice. Think of a few examples from Scripture.


  • If Satan should come to you with an apple, as he once did to Eve, say to him “The Lord is my portion.”


  • If Satan should come to you with a grape, tempting you to drunkenness as he once did to Noah, say to him “The Lord is my portion.”


  • If he should come to you with fashionable clothing, as he once did to Gehazi, tell him “The Lord is my portion.”


  • If the devil should come to you with a ready seductress, as he once did to Joseph, tell him “The Lord is my portion.”


  • If he offers you a wedge of gold, as he once did to Achan, or a bag of money, as he once did to Judas, say to him “The Lord is my portion.”


  • If he comes to you with a crown and a kingdom, as he once did to Moses, tell him “The Lord is my portion.”


In every case, the heart that delights in God above every empty trinket that this world has to offer will rise above the devil’s attempt to put temporary worldly satisfaction ahead of the present and eternal joy of knowing God and finding contentment in His presence.


But in order for this tactic against temptation to work effectively, your insistence that “the Lord is your portion” must be a genuine confession of your heart. Do you love God more than worldly pleasure? Do you delight in Him more than in the riches and ease of accumulated wealth? Do you desire His presence more than the fickle affections of the seductress? Do you prefer the benefits of serving God to the trappings of earthly power or worldly reputation? Can you honestly say to Satan, when he throws these temptations in your path, “Begone with these empty and worthless trifles! I have something far better than these! The Lord is my portion!”?


If you would have this power over temptation, you must set yourself to seeking God as the highest and best reward. Look to Jesus, and commune with Him through the study of His word, and through earnest prayer, and through the fellowship of His people. Meditate upon the infinite perfections of the God of grace, and mercy, and love, and justice. Think often about the wondrous Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the precious blood that has paid the price for your sins and brought you from death to life. Pray for His Spirit to be poured out in your heart and commit yourself to serving Him by serving others. The more that you practice these spiritual disciplines, the more you will find your heart filled with delight in the Lord and His presence. Then, when the devil comes creeping with his promises of temporary satisfaction, you will be able to say to him with complete confidence and temptation-conquering conviction: “The Lord is my portion!”