This is a study of James 1:12-18. To get the most from this study, I strongly recommend you reach today’s passage. Even though I use the NIV version in my preparation, you can read from your version of choice.
This passage is filled with beautiful promises and reminders, especially if you’re currently facing a difficult trial. Verse 12 reminds us that when we persevere through trials, we will receive the crown of life that God has promised to us.
So what exactly does that mean? In this passage, the author of James reminds us that when we endure trials and remain faithful to God, we receive eternal life. That life is promised to all of God’s children.
James goes on to talk about the origins of temptation, reminding believers that temptation doesn’t come from God. Instead of trying to lead us astray by tempting us, God instead gives us “every good and perfect gift” (verse 17).
Trials vs. Temptations
James reflects on trials and temptations and how these two things impact the lives of believers. It helps if we take a minute to define what he means when he uses these terms. Trials are events that happen to us, such as persecution by others, medical problems, worldwide conflict, poverty, and more. Temptations occur when we look to things that should be avoided lest they give birth to sin (verse 15).
Sometimes it takes real discernment to tell the difference between these two things. It’s only natural that under the burden of temptation, we might look to explain what is happening to us. While we have the benefit of Scripture in front of us, James’ audience probably asked questions about where temptation came from. Some even blamed God for the temptation they faced.
Temptation comes when a person is “dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (verse 14). As humans, we have a great capacity for evil. You only need to turn on the news for a few minutes before you see the results of evil around the world.
The Reliability of God
If you’re anything like me, the turmoil in our world causes a significant amount of anxiety. Even if you manage to ignore the pain and conflict happening on a global level, personal trials and stressors seem to crop up out of nowhere.
Last week we returned home from vacation and settled into our daily lives again. We recently bought a house, which has given me a sense of stability (knowing that we have such a comfortable place to return to after being away). I feel in control when I’m in my own space.
But Thursday night was different. After spending some time relaxing with my husband, we noticed that sewage was coming up through the shower. We called a few plumbers in the area and managed to find someone to come look at it the next morning.
The plumber took one look and called for backup. Suddenly there were several men in my basement. They were saying things like “this is bad” and “total nightmare.” NOT what you want to hear when someone is working on your house.
Although they eventually got everything patched up, it made me realize just how unstable the “stability” I’ve built can be. Yet when everything feels upside-down (whether it’s plumbing issues like ours or something much more serious), we can trust that God is still reliable.
Verse 17 reminds us that every good and perfect gift comes from God. That same verse also reminds us that God “does not change like the shifting shadows.” When everything else in our life feels unstable, we can trust that God never changes.
Today, take a few minutes to take inventory of your life. What are the things you’re struggling with right now? If your current struggles are the result of temptation and sin in your life, take the time to repent and rededicate yourself to God.
If you’re struggling with the stuff of life that is out of your control, take a moment to reflect on the faithfulness of God. As you remember the ways God’s been faithful before, remind yourself that the same God who saw you through before is here with you now. Our God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Rest in that thought today.