“12God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13And remember, no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else either. 14Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. 15These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death.”
We’ve been experiencing a recurring theme during the Faith and Endurance Series of testing one’s faith. Let’s review what we have discovered so far:
- When we have troubles, it presents an opportunity for us to choose joy
- The explanation behind the tests of our faith or trouble in our life is to grow our endurance and faith
- Growing our endurance makes us perfect, ready to take on future troubles with God by our side
- Wisdom is available for those of us who ask with the expectation of God answering
- Wavering faith is useless
- Comparisons of poor and rich aren’t needed. They have the same God who desires they both become spiritually rich and reliant upon Him
In James 1:12, he re-emphasizes that God blesses those who face troubles (just as he honors the poor). Again, James is choosing to write specifically to those who are facing struggles. Oftentimes, people are under the assumption that once they give their life to God their life is supposed to get easier. I will say, at times, this is true. It will get easier to do some things. For instance, I no longer have to go through tests of faith alone! (Can I get an Amen to that?!?) However, there are times when people find that their lives are harder as a Christian. Why? The Enemy is mad! Fighting mad, I tell you! The devil has lost yet another soul to the hand of God, and the enemy wants nothing more than to tempt us to turn our ways on God and follow his (the devils) wicked ways on a pathway strait to the depths of H*ell.
When I initially read that God “blesses” people who endure testing, I questioned the meaning of blessed. We associate blessings with good things. The Lord has blessed me with a roof over my head, food to eat, shoes on my feet… We rarely see bad things as blessings, right? We even give the devil credit for wrecking havoc on our lives when really it could be a test of faith coming from God to grow us spiritually (but not to tempt us into sin).
The question James is trying to answer for us in this section of chapter one is in light of our trials, “How do we handle troubles as Christians?” In James 1:9-11, he also tells us that we can’t look to “wealth” to get us through tests of faith (unless, of course, it is spiritual wealth). So how do we do it? We seek solace in God. One of the most important points that James makes is that regardless of what we are going through, there is an end in sight, and it will be more magnificent than we can ever imagine it to be. A Crown of Life! He will be our resolution in the midst of heartache, and even when we can’t imagine there is an end, He will walk beside of us and give us His wisdom until we reach our end…our own specifically designed ending by Him.
Also, James wants us to truly understand Temptation and that God will never tempt us to do wrong. Our doing wrong is a “me” problem. We must take ownership in our decision making. Remember we talked about self imposed trials and uncontrollable trials? Temptation falls into self-imposed. Temptations present themselves in our lives so that we have a chance to grow our endurance. The first few times we turn away from sinful desires it’s hard—sometimes, very hard if not down right impossible. However, each time we stand fast on God’s wisdom to know right from wrong, it will get easier. Eventually, turning from our sinful ways will become second nature to us. We will do right by God’s word because it has been embedded into our thoughts and hearts. What James wants us to understand about God is that His intentions regarding our lives are always pure and good. He will never play “mind games” with us and place us in tempting sinful circumstances.
James also uses a parallel with death that illustrates, just as there is an end point to troubles in our life, there too is an endpoint with temptation. The desire to sin usually occurs before the action(s) of carrying out the sin. Ultimately, living in a sinful ways puts us back on track to leading a sinful life which will result in death………not Life after Death as God has promised. Did you get that?!? Death. The End. Period.
Summing up this group of scripture, wouldn’t you say that James is encouraging us that in the midst of struggles that we are to wait on God? Even when there seems to be a quicker solution present (which may in turn bring worse self-imposed temptations or trials to our lives). God isn’t the type to toy with us or play those awful mind games we tend to play as humans. His intentions will always be what are best for our lives, even if we disagree or wonder what He is thinking?!? We must keep in mind that He, too, sees the end point to our suffering and its benefit to our spiritual well-being. We don’t have to like it; we don’t even have to agree; but what we must do is believe and trust Him with unwavering faith knowing that ultimately He knows best. One day, we will be able to look back and thank Him for the heartache and appreciate its pain…and experience true joy simultaneously as we serve Him. Until then, we are to count our blessings (both good and bad) as joyous and patiently wait on Him to show us the “joy” we maybe can’t see at this time in our lives.