As the Spirit reveals to us through James here, our trials find their genesis within our own hearts. Temptations are real. We are challenged in today’s passage to learn what to do with them.
God does not “test” us; life does. But, in faith, we know that we are not alone in our trials. God is always present to us. He is always willing and ready to support us with his graces when those trials come. It is our faith in God that helps us to persevere when we are under trial.
James tells us: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (verses 13-15)
As the Spirit reveals to us through James here, our trials find their genesis within our own hearts. We know that God has given us free will. When temptations arise we are confronted with a free choice. The questions then are: Will we give in to the temptations, or will we “persevere” and remain steadfast against them? Will we “stand the test?” This is yet another way of God telling us of the importance of honest, regular, even daily, self-reflection. Temptations are real. We are challenged in today’s passage to learn what to do with them.
There are two strengths that we as Christians must work on daily. First, we must continually grow in our knowledge of what is really good, and what is really evil. We do this through prayer, by attending church regularly, by sharing our faith and our struggles with those we have come to know as good and faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and through our continuous study of the Holy Scriptures. Secondly, we need to continually develop the ability to recognize what our greatest temptations are, along with the courage and strength to remain steadfast against them. It is our deepening relationship with God that enables us to do both of these things.
Lord, continue to call us into a deeper relationship with you. We have come to know that it is through your grace alone that we can gain both the wisdom to recognize our temptations, and the courage to stand the test when they try to overwhelm us. Help us to know you more truly, to love you more dearly, and to serve you more sincerely in our daily lives, so that we may, on the Last Day, be called to live with you forever in heaven. We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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