Baseball is the ultimate team and individual sport. Without individual performances, the team cannot win. Without the team performance, individuals lose. Plays can’t be drawn up to ensure one player dominates the game or gets the ball each time. No players take more than one turn at bat every nine plate appearances. It is a team sport dominated by mandated (on offense) and random (on defense) opportunities.
However, because of the one-one-one battles that dominate the game, individual players are often challenged to be more and do more than is possible for one player. In many cases, there is a great temptation to be a hero or to prove oneself during such battles. The better the player, the greater the temptation.
Such individual temptation often centers on one question: “If you are so good, maybe you can just win the game right now. If you’re so good, why not show it?”
What happens next depends on how much the player respects and trusts those for whom they play. Some simply do their jobs, while others try to do it all on their own.
In Matthew 4, the Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted. Satan was there and the game was on. Our Lord faced three temptations that all began with one question: If you are the Son of God, why not show it?
Why not show that you can turn these rocks into bread? Why not show that God will save you, no matter what you do? Why not show that you don’t have to go to that cross to rule the world?
We are faced with that same question in every temptation we face. Why not show how great you are? Why not show off what God can do, no matter what we do? Why not show that God wants you to avoid pain?
Notice the subtle lies in each scenario. Truth is, there is nothing great about us. Not apart from Jesus, anyway. Truth is, putting God to the test to bail us out of our own sinfulness and stupidity is, well, sinful and stupid. Truth is, God never promised a life without pain, so taking shortcuts around it short-circuit his plans.
Don’t be surprised when temptations come in the same way Jesus faced it. Satan will offer just enough truth to hide the lie. Why not play the hero, do what we want, take shortcuts around pain? Because we trust our Father, just like the Son did, that’s why.