Today we examined the temptations Christ faced from a different perspective. In verses 9-11 Satan asks the Savior to put conditions on God’s love. He says essentially, “Hey, you’re Jesus- I mean, you’re very important! Jump off this tower and angels will protect you… so much so that you won’t even dash your foot against a stone!”
The relevance for young people today is that they are often tempted to do this very thing: to place conditions on God’s love for them. We should be very careful not to do this. We live in a fallen world, and though we pray for protection in these dangerous times, we mustn’t assume that when we go through trials that God doesn’t love us or isn’t aware of our challenges.
What makes this exchange even more ironic is the suggestion Satan makes that Jesus place himself in a dangerous position in order for God to prove His love for him. Some teens struggle with this temptation: the idea that if we behave horribly that those around us will respond favorably, thereby “proving” their love for us. Let us not use this as a measuring stick in our relationships. Putting the relationship with those we love at risk through negligent or bad behavior is no way to determine if the other person cares about us.
How To Be Miserable
We also examined how Satan came to be in this condition. We looked at Moses 4:1-4 in the Pearl of Great Price. In it we read:
And I, the aLord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That bSatan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the cbeginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will dredeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely eI will do it; wherefore fgive me thine honor (Moses 4:1 emphasis added).
Satan’s complete focus was on himself. He wanted credit. He claimed the glory. I had the students highlight Satan’s “me problem” in this verse. If you want to be totally miserable, just focus on yourself for awhile, and pretty soon you will realize that people are not bowing to your every demand. People who walk around expecting the world to bow to their wishes find out fairly quickly that it just doesn’t work that way.
On the other hand, we have a great example of a perfectly happy being- Jesus Christ. In the pre-earth realm, after the statement made by Satan, Jesus said the following:
In other words, Jesus’ main goal was to do His father’s will. He didn’t strive for glory, ambition, or credit. His total motivation was His love for His father and for us. When we have these motives and desires, we can be happy as He is.
In his book entitled How to be totally miserable, John Bytheway takes a look at ways teenagers can be happy by taking the opposite approach. He emphasizes what miserable people do in the effort that by illustrating this, we will choose to be happy. He writes:
Miserable people think about their height, their weight, their hair, their car, their clothes, their nose. They live in a world of their own. They say things like, “But enough about me… what do you think about me?” They treat people like things and things like people. They run their own 24-hour self-service station. Happy people know that the key to being happy is making others so. They see every new day as another opportunity to make the world a better place by making a difference to others. Miserable people think of others only when comparing themselves to them. And comparisons make them either vain or bitter (or more miserable). 1
President Hinckley stated:
Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others… By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves. 2
“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”
1. John Bytheway, How to be totally miserable, p. 15.
2. Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 590.
3. Gordon B. Hinckley, A Conversation with Single Adults, Ensign, March 1997.