If…Then.

Matthew 4 (ESV)

The Temptation of Jesus

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the templeand said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

alba sul deserto

If you have ever been part of a co-dependent or dysfunctional relationship,  you are well aware of what it is like to deal with the enemy. You know first hand what it’s like to be in an “if/then” relationship.

If you really love me, then you’ll never leave me. 

If you are really committed to this friendship, then you will do what I ask without question. 

If you truly cared about my feelings, you would never ask me to change or grow. 

You know exactly what it means to try to end such a relationship. It is ugly, and painful and chaotic and exhausting.

Relationships not fully grounded in the foundational truths of who God is and who we are in Him, are faulty and tend to be grounded in performance.

I love this passage of scripture. Everything about it exemplifies the if/then struggle.

If you are really hungry, then turn these stones into bread. 

If you are who you say you are, then put yourself in harm’s way and tell the angels to protect you. 

And when that approach didn’t work…

Can anyone else offer you what I offer you? Just surrender to me and I’ll give you everything you could ever want. 

If we are truly honest with ourselves, we would admit that, at some point or another, we have wrestled to free ourselves from the dysfunctional relationship we have with the enemy.

If we were as certain as Jesus was about what is true about God’s nature, His desires, and His promise, then it would be much easier to face our fears and experience the freedom of breaking the shackles of our dysfunctional relationships.

We are told here that, the moment Jesus stood up to Satan, he fled and the angels appeared. Immediately following that experience, His earthly ministry began.

The most important part of his existence literally began after he established a clear end to the one relationship that would separate him from God.

Unhealthy or dysfunctional relationships aren’t always obvious to us. On occasion, they may have started as seemingly healthy. The key indicator in an unhealthy, dysfunctional or abusive relationship is often the same thing that Jesus stated out loud to the enemy.

10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

If that relationship…if ANY relationship…does not serve the Lord your God and Him only…it’s not healthy. It’s not holy and it is not one that will lead to freedom and breakthrough in your life.

Recognizing the need to end a relationship is one thing…having the courage to actually end it is another thing, entirely.

We often buy into the lie that if we really want to demonstrate the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ, that we will roll over and deal with the pain and hurt and frustration that is part and parcel of such a relationship.

That could not be further from the truth.

What Jesus instructed his disciples to do with those who didn’t accept him or honor his ordination as the prophesied Savior was to literally “leave and shake the dust off of your feet as a testimony against them” (see Matthew 10:14, Mark 6:11 and Luke 9:5).

Not everyone who enters your life is meant to stay in your life. Not everyone will follow you as you follow Jesus. Not everyone will accept His teachings and truths as you grab them and let them change you.

Sometimes, extending love, grace and mercy means that you end a relationship that becomes a roadblock to you serving the Lord your God and Him only. It is only when you end the co-dependency that either of you is able to truly experience who God is and what He has called you for.

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