Appetite, Approval, and Ambition {Can You Relate?}

Today begins Lent.

Because Lent identifies with Jesus’ 40 days of testing in the wilderness, I decided to revisit those passages this morning: Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.

Do you realize Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tested by the devil?

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. Luke 4:1-2

40 days of testing.  Not just the three tests we read about in the Bible, but 40 days and nights of NO FOOD (wow) and constant temptation. What must that have been like?  All we know is that when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4:13

So, sister, there is NOT ONE temptation that Jesus has not endured or does not understand.  And this passage ends with an inevitability: Satan will return at an opportune time. As if 40 days was not enough, he will be back.  And when he comes back, chances are high that the temptation you face will fall into one of three areas:  Appetite, ambition, or approval.

I learned of the 3 A’s of temptation yesterday as I read Sarah Bessey’s Why Lent Matters to Me.  She linked a resource that included this…

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He was tempted at three different levels: Appetite, Approval and Ambition. Although we have come two thousand years since Christ, our temptations remain the same.  

This stuck with me.

In verse 3, Satan says, If you’re the Son of God, command the stones to become bread.

I thought of my own temptations…appetite is no brainer. I have struggled with my weight for many, many, many years.  That’s a daily, hourly temptation for me.  And our appetites aren’t just about food.  They can be about money or people – just about anything we desire more than God.

And Jesus says, Man shall not live by break alone. (verse 4)  And that’s that. Our source of life is not of this world; it’s Jesus alone.

Then, Satan promises Jesus the kingdoms of the world – glory – if Jesus will worship him.  (5, 6)

Ambition? Have you seen the self-help section at Barnes and Noble? Have you glanced at the New York Times Bestseller list lately? Live your best life, be the best you – that’s the theme of 95% of books.  All having to do with our ambition to be more and get more.  Achieve. To avoid what Brene Brown calls FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out.  We join Facebook groups, check Twitter, and scroll Instagram in fear that we will miss out on what all the other __________{whatever group we identify with} are doing.  Our culture tells us we need to want and have it all.  Again. Satan knows it.  He knows it’s part of our DNA.

But, Jesus says You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve. (8)  Not man.  Not culture’s idea of greatness.  Not the FOMO.  Jesus. {A relief!}

Finally, Satan tells Jesus…if you are the Son of God, throw yourself off the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem (where all worshippers can see) and the angels will save you {my paraphrase}. Satan even QUOTES SCRIPTURE, reminding Jesus of the promise “he will command the angels concerning you, to guard you.” (Psalm 91:11)  This is about approval – Jesus proving to the world at the temple that he’s the Son of God, gaining their approval.

Approval?  Don’t we all struggle here? We all want others’ approval – even if you say  I don’t care what anyone else thinks, you do.  Sure, you can come to a place where the opinions of others do not guide or shape your decisions, but deep down, we want approval.  Affirmation.  Satan knows that about us. We are made in the image of Christ, and what might tempt him, definitely tempts us.

{I read a great post about these three A’s here. So worth the time.}

Friends, as we sit here looking at the 40 days ahead, I pray we consider Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. I pray we ask him to reveal our appetites, our need for approval, our ambitious motives.  I pray we move through the next 40 days in a new way, intentionally focusing on Jesus and laying down ourselves for His glory.

If you’d like to join me and a few friends on a journey through Hebrews over the next 40 days, you can read more here. Here’s the first verse:

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Over the next 40 days, I’ll share a verse a day on my Facebook,  Twitter , and Instagram (@sarahfarish).

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You can these verses – and about 35 others – each day.  I pray your time reading, writing, and meditating on one verse a day helps you to know him more.  Because as we know Him more, we can’t help but love him more.

How are you observing Lent? Are you fasting? I’d love for you to share in the comments, so I can pray for your wilderness.


  1. The three A’s are traps for so many of us. We all fall victim. I got my journal and am reading the Hebrew verses. I like this approach to Lent. Thank you for sharing.

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