Luke 22:5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.
The 1946 Frank Capra film, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is unarguably one of the best Christmas classics of all time. Spiritual overtones are unmistakable throughout this drama following the life of fictional character, George Bailey. Early on, college-bound George attends a high school dance and re-acquaints himself with graduating senior, Mary Hatch (whom he later marries). In the middle of the music and the commotion on the high school gym floor, they appear love-struck. A different young man who had also taken an interest in Mary is jealous and that’s when the devil pops on the screen.
Well, not with horns and a forked tail. But certainly, Frank Capra had the devil in mind. An unknown character with no other part in the movie appears suddenly beside the sulking young man who, from a distance, watches George and Mary hit it off. Capra’s devil then does two things that typify Satan:
He makes a suggestion and then he makes an offer.
This unknown character suggests that the young man take revenge and then he offers him a key that will open the gym floor to a pool below. It just so happens that George and Mary are dancing right over the crack where the floor begins to separate.
Capra nailed it. This is exactly how it works almost all the time. The devil suggests and then makes an offer. Consider, however, an important ingredient to the recipe of moral failure that was mixed into the bowl of this scene before the devil ever showed up.
The boy was wishing.
Wishing what? Wishing that he had a way to satisfy his jealousy.
No, the devil didn’t plant this jealousy or the angry thoughts that were obviously brewing as the young man watched George and Mary dance the night away. That was his own doing. It was his own wishing. The devil just took advantage of it by making a suggestion and then making an offer.
The process so artistically laid out in this scene of Capra’s film is the same one laid out in Luke 22.
The Pharisees are envious and fearing loss of power at the hands of Jesus’ followers (v.2) and they’re wishing to kill Him;
“Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them.” (v.3)
The sin of Judas’ betrayal to come in the garden of Gethsemane may be history’s most grievous. How did it go down? Satan “conferred” with the chief priests. He made a suggestion and then an offer.
But it first started with their wishing.
In cellular biology, I learned that cells express themselves by embedding proteins called antigens on the outside of their cell wall surface. Simply put, these antigens are recognized by certain destroyer cells as good or bad. If something is wrong with the cell, bad antigens are expressed on the exterior of the cell and it will be attacked and killed. If the antigens are good, the destroyer cells leave it be.
To some extent, what we wish for is expressed from us like antigens are from a cell. If what we wish are ungodly desires, they attract the destroyer Satan who then latches on to make a suggestion and then an offer. The offer is always intended to do two things; make our wish come true and his, too.
What are you wishing?
To work less?
To become rich?
To get justice for yourself?
For someone who’s caused you harm to fall?
Be careful what you’re wishing. He’s got a suggestion and an offer. The combination of all three is the definition of temptation. But it starts with you.
James 1:14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.
The word “desires” is ἐπιθυμία epithumía; from epi (in) and thumos (mind).
That’s where it starts.
It’s where it started in exacting revenge against George and Mary. It’s where it started in exacting the betrayal of Jesus. And it’s where sin starts for you and me.
Don’t give the devil such a blatant opportunity to make a suggestion and an offer.
Instead, think on what’s honorable; desire what’s pure; hope for moral excellence; and wish for His will in all things.