I reckon these are the three main distractions our enemy, the devil uses to try to knock us off course. What do you think?
Jesus talked about the ‘deceitfulness of wealth’ and the ‘desires for other things’ that can take root in our hearts, choking the impact of God’s Word and making us unfruitful (Mark 4: 19). Money itself isn’t the root of all evil; it is the love of money (1 Tim 6: 10).
Then the book of Proverbs warns us against sexual temptation in chapters 6 and 7, pleading with the reader to keep the Word of God, taught to him by his own mother and father, close to his heart. Many have fallen as wandering eyes have teased undisciplined thoughts to eventually a point of no return.
Lastly, Jesus described some kings and rulers as those who ‘lord it over’ their people, but a leader in His Kingdom must be one who takes second place. A Godly leader doesn’t seek or exploit power but looks for opportunities to serve (see Luke 22: 25 – 26).
Paul knows these things all too well as he prays for those in his care in the Ephesian church. His prayer is almost an antidote to the three powerful temptations. While the world entices us to pursue money, sex and power, Paul prays for heavenly riches, hope and Godly power.
‘I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe’ (Eph 1: 18-19).
Why do we chase after earthly wealth when we are heirs of the riches of Heaven? Why do we pursue things that cost us and entrap us when the blessings of God are free, good and brimming with health for mind, body and soul? Why do we seek to control others when a community of love and service is filled with the presence and gentle heartbeat of God?
Paul’s prayer in Ephesians demands that we ask God for our hearts to be enlightened. Let’s pray for that fervently, regularly, daily. This can only be a supernatural work. When we know the present and eternal hope that we have by faith in Jesus Christ, His presence and provision today, and the vast catalogue of adventures to come in eternity with our Creator and Father, perhaps we will be less inclined to find satisfaction in temporary pleasures.
When we grasp something of the riches we have in Christ, both today and in the days and life to come; the deep wells of His inheritance, maybe we will realise the cheapness and transience of earthly prosperity.
And when we are humbled, awestruck by the raw power of God; when our eyes are opened to witness even ‘small’ glimpses of his working in our everyday lives, maybe we will hunger less for earthly power and more for Him.
Suggested prayer: “Lord, I want my heart to be enlightened, to know the hope I have in you both today and in the future. Lord, please enable me to see more of the riches of my inheritance in you, the eternal blessings and provision you freely give, and the power available to us through simple faith in you. Let those things quickly replace any temptations towards the misuse of wealth, sex, or power. Amen.”