The temptation of Jesus Christ can be best understood with the Confucianism's virtue of 礼Li, the right way of behavior for the right time and situation. Devil's power of temptation is to appeal to your right intention but get you do it in the wrong way and situation.As a young christian, I have much difficulty in understanding the temptations of Jesus as recorded in Luke 4:1-13 and Mat 4:1-10. My point then was why Jesus just don't do what the Devil said to show his power and shut the devil's mouth? I was too foolish to understand the deeper implications of the actions and easily fell into the devil's trap. Here are two posts written in the past to show the true meaning of the devil's temptations. The key point is that our identity should not be defined by external circumstances but purely by faith in the Word of God.
Confucianism and the Temptations of Jesus
Some preacher suggested that the temptations of Jesus can be better understood as "Doing the right thing in the wrong way." or "The right motivation but the wrong method". One must not only have the right intention, but he must do it in the right way so that the intention can be clearly expressed and received. Confucianism has a word, a virtue, that describe this. It is called 礼 Li, meaning good manners, or the right protocols of behavior in the right time and situations, so as to ensure there be no misunderstanding.
It is commonly taught that Confucianism (The Ru School 儒家) have five virtues of 仁 love 义 righteousness 礼 good manners 智wisdom 信 rustworthiness. In going through the literatures, 勇 bravery and 严 strick discipline should also be added. We may have love and want to do them rightly. But how can we express our love to another rightly? The answer lies in Li, good manners or protocols. This is especially important in this multi-cultures world. For a Chinese, giving roast piglet is a gesture of showing great honor and love. However, pig is not accepted in the Jewish and Muslim cultures. We cannot just give roast piglet to them. It would be taken as an insult. Hence, we can see that having the right intention is not good enough. We must look at the receipient cultural and values view point so that we can express our love in the right way. For Chinese, 'do unto others what you want do unto you' is actually overly imposing. How can I presume that he also wants what I want? I need to find out first, subtlely is best. Then I need to find out what is the right way to show it.
Coming back the temptations of Jesus. What is right way to express the right internal intention?
There is no need for Jesus to prove to the devil who he is. Jesus already know who he is. At the same time, Jesus took the opportunity to point out that God's Word is as important as our daily food. There is no need to prove God's Words by doing silly things to violate God's established order. God's protection will surely come at the right situation and time. Jumping from tall tower is not such a right situation. The way to acknowledge our God is to worship Him above all other things. Someone said that if God is not the Lord of all then He is not the Lord at all,
Hence, let us know 礼 Li, the right thing to do at the right time and situation so that we are not easily tempted and trapped by the devil or the world.
Always ask, yes, it is a good intention, but is it the right way, at the right time, under the right situation?
Lim Liat (c) 10 Oct 14