Seeing God Rightly in Times of Difficulty - James 1:12-18
As we enter our second week of sheltering at home and another week of uncertainty we return to the first chapter of James as he writes to Christians who are experiencing trials.
As we move into the second part of this paragraph it is clear that James understands human nature. He knows our tendency to doubt God’s goodness and His plan in times of difficulty and he writes in order to help us think rightly about God’s nature and His character toward His people.
We are in uncertain times and James 1:12-18 should serve as a protection for us. It should guard us from having wrong views of God and of our situation. James offers three reminders that should help us think rightly about God in times of trial.
As We Face Trials, We Must Remember that God Has Promised a Good Reward for Those Who Love Him (1:12)
- A blessed people– We don’t usually equate suffering with being blessed, but this is the adjective James uses to describe those who remain firm in their faith and confident in God amid trials.
- The promise of God– While this verse has much to say about our response to suffering, the main focus is on the promise of God. God has promised eternal life to those who love Him (the crown of life).
- Remaining steadfast- The call to steadfastness is a call to faith and trust in God. While this may seem to imply a works based salvation, we know from Scripture that our love for God and our enduring faith are both gifts from Him given by His grace.
As we Face Trials, We Must Remember that God does not use Trials to Tempt Us to Sin (1:13-15)
- Let no one say– James understands human nature and he knows that when the pressure is on we will be tempted to sin. Amid that temptation we may be inclined to point the finger at God and to accuse Him of being the source of our temptation. But James wants us to understand God rightly and he warns us against accusing God of being a tempter.
- The character of God – God is holy (vs. 13)– In order to prove his point James appeals to the holiness of God. Because God is holy and cannot sin, He cannot be tempted and He will not tempt anyone to sin.
- The actual source of temptations – Our own desires (vs. 14) - In verse 14 James explains that our temptation to sin does not come from outside of us. Temptation is not an outside force, but an inner battle. The source of our temptations is the evil desires of our own hearts. (Mark 7:14-15, 21-23; Romans 7:18-25;Jeremiah 17:9)
- The results of giving into evil desires – Sin and death (vs. 15) - Daniel Doriani – [James] personifies evil, saying temptations and desires come together to “conceive.” Their offspring is named “sin.” Sin grows up and becomes a parent too. The name of its child is “death.” As surely as physical conception leads to birth, this kind of conception “gives birth to death.”
As We Face Trials, We Must Remember that God is the Giver of Good Gifts (1:16-18)
- The character of God as the giver of good gifts(vs. 16-17) - God is holy. Since He is holy everything that comes from Him is good and perfect and that even extends to our trials. Even our trials can be seen as good gifts that God allows in order to produce something greater in us. God does not give us anything that is intended to harm us or cause us to sin; everything that comes from His hand is intended grow us and strengthen us.
- The unchanging God– In times that are uncertain and inconsistent we can find hope in recognizing God’s unchanging and never wavering character.
- God’s greatest gift – Our salvation (vs. 18) – As James brings this section to a close he ends with the reminder of the greatest gift that God has given, namely our salvation. Our world is cursed by sin and struggles, but God has promised to make all things new. We are a kind of firstfruits as even now God is making us more and more into the image of His Son.
Summary – We are living in an unprecedented time and now more than ever we must strive to think rightly about God and His dealing with us. Regardless of what we face we can be confident in what God has promised and that He remains the giver of good gifts. We can also be sure that any temptation to sin is not from Him, but from our own hearts. Thankfully we know that in Christ we can have victory over the sinful desires of our hearts.