The Word: Facing temptation: Appetite

Published 12:20 pm Friday, June 16, 2023

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Temptation is something we all face in life. We are tempted to do many things. Some are trivial: is it horrible if I have an extra scoop of chocolate ice cream tonight? Others have larger consequences: to betray a spouse or undermine a coworker can irreparably damage us and them. Yet whether the outcomes are great or small, temptation can be one of the hardest things we deal with in life, because we are tempted to do things that appeal to us on some level.

The good news, according to the New Testament, is that we are not alone. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus “was tempted in every way, just as we are.” Three of the Gospels include a description of a time of testing or temptation for Jesus as he prepared to begin his ministry, and Matthew and Luke detail what those temptations were. I plan to use my devotionals this summer to explore those temptations for Jesus and for us.

The first temptation Jesus faced was the temptation of appetite. After forty days and nights of fasting, this is understandable; Jesus was famished. As he looked around, he saw piles and piles of stones. To the hungry mind, they looked just like bread – and couldn’t he turn stones into bread? “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4:3)

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How easy it would have been for Jesus to give in to the tempter’s voice! No one would know, after all, for Jesus was alone in the wilderness. Moreover, no one would have blamed him, for he had been without food for forty long days and nights. His body was on the verge of starvation. If it was in his power, and the assumption of the Gospel writers is that it was, then Jesus could have easily turned the stones to bread and relieved his physical hunger.

Yet he refused. Why? “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) The whole purpose of the fast was to gain clarity and conviction for the call of God on his life. Jesus wasn’t about to set that aside for a temporary relief of hunger pains.

What appetites tempt us in ways that threaten our connection with God or our ability to do the things God wants? Are they appetites of food or drink? Are they appetites of leisure, how we use our precious time? Do we spend the resources we have to satisfy our temporary urges instead of investing them in things of lasting value? How do we let our appetites control us – and how can we resist, like Jesus did, by focusing on the ways God is at work in our lives? We can try to turn stones to bread, but may we learn to live on the life-giving words of God.

Rev. Dr. J. Adam Tyler is the Senior Pastor for Farmville Baptist Church and he can be reached by email at