Shortcuts from Satan
Regardless of the area of life in which they appear, there is something very appealing and intriguing about shortcuts. In short [pun intended], a shortcut is a quicker or easier way to get from where you are to where you want or need to be or to where you think you should be. It could be as simple as driving through a gas station parking lot to turn onto the road you need to travel next rather than waiting at the red light. Such shortcuts often feel rewarding offering savings in time and resources.
Regardless of our supposed benefits and/or savings, something in our conscience is not as pleased with shortcuts. Pulling through that gas station parking lot may have saved two minutes, but it did not feel right to use that parking lot, not to get gas, but to save a little time. Reading the cliff notes of a book to do well on a test may indeed result in the desirable grade, but not doing the assigned reading in its entirety leaves one with a feeling of guilt. Whatever benefit might have been obtained through the shortcut is cancelled by the guilt produced from the conscience.
This is not a new struggle, but one that we see in the very representatives of good (Jesus Christ, the Son of God) and evil (the Devil). This conflict unfolds in various ways throughout scripture, but no place more clearly than in Matthew 4:8-10. In times past, God the Father promised the kingdoms of the world to His Son, Jesus (see Psalm 2:7-8). However, the possession of these kingdoms required a path of obedience by the Son that included His sacrificial death for the sins of the world (see Isaiah 53:12; Philippians 2:8-11). The Devil, possessing knowledge of scripture, would have understood the promise given to the Son concerning the kingdoms of the world. He (the Devil) may also have had some understanding that the Son’s pathway to receiving this promise would be difficult. As such, he offered the Son a shortcut—a way to get the desired results (“all the kingdoms of the world”), but without having to go the way of suffering (Matthew 4:8-9). To the godless, this seems to be a win-win situation. To the Son of God, the end did not justify the means. If He was to inherit the promise, He was to do so by taking the difficult, but ordered path—the cross.
If we have determined to follow the Son of God in every aspect of our lives, should we not do so in this area as well? Truth be told, we know and understand that there is just something inherently wrong with shortcuts. Sure, there are exceptions to this, but, as it has often been said, exceptions prove the rule. Generally speaking, offers of compromise can be traced to the Devil. Sometimes, yea many times, these offers appear harmless and perhaps they are, but as a principle, we should determine to follow the pathway established, step-by-step, in order to gain the prize promised at the end.