James: Trials and Temptations

I was told when I was younger that if you wanted to test your marriage, do home improvement together. I chuckled at that and didn’t think much of it until my husband and I began working on the farmhouse we bought.

We currently are living through deconstruction and construction in the majority of our house. Our floors are covered in dust and more than once we’ve brought plaster and contention to bed with us. Differences in opinions have laid way to arguments. We’ve been frustrated over timing, closet placements, and each other. Our opposite personalities which attracted us to each other have infuriating us as we’ve learned to work together. There has been blood, sweat, and tears poured into this house project and our marriage.

We know the effort and pain will be worth it when one day our bedroom is no longer the tiny office we’re crammed into and we’re relaxing in a newly remodeled living room. Just like we have to go through the demo to work on the new, we need to go through trials in our marriage to build a strong, lasting bond. The frustration and strain is worth it when we come out as better communicators and friends. The best of times does not make two people into one; it is the worst of times in which oneness is forged.

While not talking about a house remodel at all or a marriage specifically, James does continue his topic on trials saying that while God does not tempt, He does allow trials to mature our faith. We can further understand why struggles in our marriage, persecution for our faith, or simply feeling the effects of natural evil can be counted as joy by the verses in James 1:12-18.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

Trials are apart of life in general, but specifically they play a role in the Christian life. James comforts believers that not only should they be expected but they can be a blessing. We don’t endure trials in vain. God will bless those who endure through hardships. Through faith we are saved and receive eternal life. As we live out our faith in life loving God, He will reward those who stay true to Him.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James 1:13-15

Trials can lead to endurance, maturity, and blessing. But, if we allow our sinful desires to overtake us, trials can actually be temptation and lead to sin and death.

When we fail a trial by giving into sin, we shouldn’t sin further by blaming God for our shortcoming. God is holy and truly good. He cannot sin or do evil. It would be evil of Him to tempt us. That is not the heart if God! God loves us very much, and He does not want us to fail in the face of trials and temptation. He is the one who gives us the ability to resist the temptation we are feeling. How could He simultaneously be the one tempting and the one sustaining us against temptation? God will allow us to face hard times in which our flesh may tempt us, but He will never do the tempting.

We need to be honest with ourselves when we face temptation and realize that it is our own desires that lure us to sin. People’s biggest temptation can vary. This is because it is from their own individual heart that they are tempted. My biggest temptation may differ drastically from yours. But ALL should be resisted. Regardless of how big or little the temptation to sin feels, the result is always death if not intervened by the blood of Christ. James uses an analogy to show the progression of sin. First, it is conceived in desire or temptation. Second, we give birth to the temptation by giving into it and sinning. And finally, it grows into death if we don’t repent and instead let it manifest in our lives therefore we willingly walk out of communion with God. Our sinful desires need to be dealt with seriously. If left unchecked by the Holy Spirit within us, they will lead to separation from God and spiritual death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from.the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind if firstfruits of his creatures.

James 1:16-18

Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that God is letting us endure trials and suffering without purpose or assume that temptation is from above instead of inside ourselves. James states that every good and perfect gift comes from God. We may not understand why God let’s us endure hardships and suffering, but we know He is good and faithful and will sustain us through them. Paul affirms this idea in Romans 8:28 when he says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Paul doesn’t say that all things are good, but rather, that God works all things for good for the children of God. Therefore, we see that God not only gives us the good gift of sustaining us through trials and against temptation, but also that He takes these unfortunate situations and turns them into good. He develops our character and matures our faith in the midst of trials.

Through all the chaos and change in the world, we can stand firm on the changeless God. He will always be looking out for our good. When our situations are disorderly and difficult, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He will always be there to sustain us if only we call on Him.

God doesn’t owe us anything; we are the people who broke the covenant with Him and against Him chiefly do we sin. Yet, out of His own freewill and to His delight, he brought us the gospel, the word of truth. He sent Jesus to die and rise again for our sins so that we can be His people. This early church was the firstfruits of christianity. Firstfruits indicate that more fruit are to come. So they in the first century looked forward to their own eternal life by the saving grace of Jesus and they looked forward to many more people to become followers. Similarly, we rejoice that God saved us and we look forward to His saving works in generations to come. Truly God gives the best gifts. He gives us life that lasts.

While we face difficulties in this life, we don’t have to be discouraged. We also shouldn’t blame shift when we are unable to resist temptation. While a lot of struggle we face if out of our control, we most certainly can control our actions when our desires for wrong tempt us. We alone are responsible for our sin. But God is willing and able to help us through trials and temptation. The life cycle of our flesh leads to death. But the life cycle that God offers to us leads to eternal life. We are able to endure whatever struggle we are going through not only because of God’s gift of helping us through it, but also because of the gift of life He gives us at the end of it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s