The Thirteenth Chapter of Book One of The Imitation of Christ is entitled, “Of Resisting Temptation” (1,13). One of the lengthier chapters, appropriately it seems to me, because, as he says, life is filled with tribulation and temptation so we must learn how to deal with these and how to not give in to them.
In today’s first reading (I Kgs 3:4-13), we read of Solomon’s preparation for the throne. As we see at the top of this post, God offered to give Solomon anything he wanted. Apparently without hesitation, Solomon rightly recognizes that, because governing the Chosen People is such an overwhelming responsibility, and he is still a youth, he needs to be a great moral leader to the people. He is granted that wisdom (only surpassed by Jesus in all of history) and very many material gifts as well.
Consider what we would do if given that same offer from God. It would be a great temptation to ask for some material thing or help in some temporal matter, even something objectively good. Solomon, per Kempis’s advice above, seems to not let the devil work on him for even a moment. It is clear that Solomon already had plenty of wisdom coming into this situation, recognizing the magnitude of the responsibility that was now thrust upon him and what is most important for him to possess.
We can take a cue from Solomon. It is certainly fine to petition the Lord for our earthly needs and the needs of others, although we should do this with great care as we wish to always ask for things pleasing to God. But are we able to look beyond immediate needs and temporal matters to lasting gifts that lead to everlasting happiness for us and others? In any case, we are wise to end with, “nevertheless, Thy will be done.”
Maybe the best answer ever to such a query from above was given by St. Thomas Aquinas in this episode:
“…Jesus in the crucifix speaks to St. Thomas and says, ‘You’ve written well of me, Thomas. What do you want as your reward?’ St. Thomas answered, ‘Non nisi te, Domine. Non nisi te.’ Nothing but you, Lord. Nothing but you.”
Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom (c. 1655) Govaert Flinck