Sunday, May 1, 2011

Triple Enticements: Fame, Fortune & Females

ODB: "If I Could Stop the Clock" (1 May, 1 Kings 10:23-11:4)

1 Kings 10:23-24; 11:1-3 King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart...King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women... Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.

Solomon had all the three "F's" that most men yearn for: Fame, Fortune & Females.  He was greater in "riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth" (fortune & fame). It was said that the "whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart." And he "held love"  to the 700 wives & 300 concubines" (females). The Apostle John describes these triple temptations in 1 John 2:15-17 this way: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world" (NKJV). Solomon fell for these triple enticements of this world -
(1) the "lust of the flesh" -- whatever gratifies bodily appetites, viz., sex & food
(2) the "lust of the eyes" -- whatever money can buy and
(3) the "pride of life" -- whatever makes others fawn over us

Solomon's wisdom and wealth were God's gifts to him. But instead of using these gifts to honour and serve God, he used them to satisfy his own ego needs - his physical needs to satisfy his bodily appetites (sex), his psychological needs for security (wealth), his spiritual needs for significance (respect). God's gifts given to bless the people were turned inwards to satisfy his own selfish needs. It's interesting that Jesus was subjected to the same triple enticements: he was tempted to turn stones into bread (to satisfy his bodily need for food), to leap off from the pinnacle of the temple (to satisfy his psychological needs for security to prove God can be trusted) and to gain authority to rule over the nations (to satisfy his spiritual need for significance).

What about the female gender? What are the equivalent enticements? Eve was simiarly tempted by the devil at the Garden of Eden: "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh) and pleasing to the eye (lust of the eye), and also desirable for gaining wisdom (pride of life), she took some and ate it" (Genesis 3:6).  Again, the devil appeals to a woman's ego needs to satisfy her bodily need (food), to satisfy her psychological desire for beauty (aesthetics) and to satisfy her spiritual need for significance (wisdom); Eve fell for the triple enticements. Even the adverts in the media appeal to these triple needs to entice people to buy what they don't really need.

While the triple needs for survival, security & significance are legitimate needs, God's will is for these needs to be met through our membership and participation in the service for the Kingdom of God, not by pursuing worldly success. Jesus' three-fold needs for survival, security & significance were fully met when He submitted to the Father's will. In the same way, our ego needs will be met as we surrender totally to the Father's will, not to the devil's will (as expressed in worldly success).

Father, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Help us find our security & significance in You and Your Kingdom alone. Amen.