During Jesus’ testing in the wilderness, Satan took him to the pinnacle of the temple and stated that since Jesus was the Son of God, he should throw himself down so that God would send angels to save him. Jesus saw the devil’s second temptation as testing the Lord God, which we are commanded not to do. Why would the devil tempt Jesus in this area? We tend to test things that we do not trust; so Satan was testing Jesus in the area of trusting God; would God save him? He was using an implied question; do you trust God to protect you?
I think of this in relation to the passage in Malachi that speaks of testing God in reference to tithing. The prophet said this because the people failed to trust God to provide for them. It was not a compliment, but a mild rebuke. Seeing it this way reveals how odd it is that we sometimes use it to motivate people to give today. The real issue is not giving, but our lack of trust in God’s care for us, which results in a failure to be generous. We fail to believe that he will take care of us. This strikes at the issue of our disappointment with God, which comes from not having our expectations met. However, if our expectations are not in alignment with God’s, our expectations likely will not be met and we may become disappointed in God. Rather, like Jesus, we need to align ourselves, our thoughts and emotions with God, so that when we face difficulties we do not become disappointed, but rather we deepen our relationship with Him. This is what Jesus did throughout his life. He had many opportunities to become disappointed with God, but he didn’t because his expectations always aligned with God. For example, in the garden of Gethsemane, he would say, not my will but your will be done. After making that declaration, Jesus was arrested, tried unjustly, beaten and crucified. Even as he was being forsaken by God, he didn’t fail to trust Him, because he released his spirit to Him. We are instructed to live in a like manner to Jesus, to behave as he did, to think the way that he did. When we proceed in becoming like Jesus our lives are radically transformed and we reflect who Jesus is to those watching us.