“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matt. 4: 4
The Satan tempted Jesus by exaggerating his bodily need for food after forty days of fasting in the wilderness. Jesus was indeed hungry (v.2) but Satan strategically manipulated the situation. He linked Jesus’ identity as the Son of God with his ability to perform miracles (as explained here) and also exaggerated the need of Jesus to eat.
While replying to Satan, Jesus ignored Satan’s attempt to provoke, and the obvious hunger he experienced in his body. He pointed to another fact that man shall not only live by bread, but also by the word of God. Jesus was foiling this temptation by prioritizing his needs. Just as Jesus knew that this was not the time to prove his worth by turning the stones to bread, he also knew that it was definitely not the time to focus on his bodily hunger. He can ignore the bodily need for hunger little longer, because the spiritual battle at hand is more important for the beginning of his earthly ministry.
Satan often exaggerates our needs in this way. We, as human beings with physical body, have many needs – physical, emotional, spiritual, social, etc. There is no harm in trying to fulfil them nor striving towards it. But when we do not prioritize each needs according to the time and place, we fall into this temptation. As Solomon says, “There is a time for everything” (Ecc. 3: 1). If we develop the habit of fulfilling the wrong needs at the wrong time, our life would be without order. We may not be able to fulfil the purpose of our lives.
When the basic needs are exaggerated, modern man finds it hard to resist. The modern culture has created an environment where you are expected to fulfil your needs without waiting. The consumeristic culture entices the crowd with schemes and loans, so that one can buy anything one wants within few minutes. Advertisements often manipulate the ego of a person and create greed to look for ways to upgrade their lives with better and sophisticated things. Social media gives the platform to boast about what one possesses. Even in other areas of lives, people look for instant gratification.
Christians should resist the consumeristic culture in our public and private lives. While acknowledging our needs, we also need to draw line and remain within the boundary in our endeavour to satisfy our needs. Wherever needed, we need to show restraint and trust God to take care of that need.
Let us examine ourselves to see whether we succumb to greed or we are genuinely concerned about the needs. When we allow the Kingdom values to guide our lives, we would not be manipulated by exaggerated needs. Instead, we will know how and where to fulfil our needs.