As a Council, we’ve been reading James (and Andy Stanley’s Next Generation Leader) together. This morning, a few us dug a bit deeper into James 1:12-18.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
Some random and not-so-random thoughts of the morning…
Testing vs. tempting. God tests us. He “thumps” us like a potter thumps a new pot to make sure it’s solid. If that pot “sings”, it’s ready. If it “thuds”, it’s not ready and back in the oven. (Analogy is courtesy of Max Lucado.) God will periodically thump us to see if we sing.
Temptation’s goal is sin which is death. This is why God can not tempt us. He will never lead us to death. But James clearly believes that it’s our OWN evil desires that leads us temptation.
In other words – the devil did NOT make me do it. I can do evil all by myself, thank you very much. I think Job is a book of great comfort, great misunderstanding, and great distress. As bad as life gets – there is always Job reminding us that it could be worse. But I think it is a mistake that God and the Satan have that kind of interaction all the time. It’s not the norm for God to “play a game” with Satan using humanity as the pawns. While I think Job can be of comfort to us, I neither think that its situation is the norm nor do I think that all of my hardships and temptations are from the devil.
Most (all?) temptations are born right inside myself. Thank you, sin nature. My sin is my problem and I am responsible for that sin and will one day be held responsible for that sin. To think otherwise is just foolish. Since I don’t know when that day is – I’ve chosen to take Jesus up on his offer. I follow him, he takes the responsibility for my sin.
Life is such that it will work out what is worked into our beings. Situations, contexts, relationships — the stuff of life WILL reveal what is in our hearts. Therefore, I must be careful what I put in my heart and what I work into my life. What is worked in will be worked out.
Don’t be fooled — I think James is more talking about the gestation period of sin than verses 17 and following. All desire that gives birth to sin will always lead to death. Always.
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth… – the Gospel, those who have been “born again” by the good story of Jesus Christ. Christ-followers are the “firstfruits”, the most prized possession of creation in God’s sight.
Another good morning around God’s word…