At bedtime several nights ago I was reading to our eldest from James 1. At the end of the chapter I asked him if there was anything that stood out to him and he recalled verse 12—“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” We discussed this verse further, taking into consideration God’s promises and the joyful attitude James encourages us to have in his letter. In our discussion I also referenced I Corinthians 10:13—“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” After several minutes of conversation we said our goodnights but I continued to contemplate these two verses and I was struck by a few things:
1. Temptations are part of this life— everyone everywhere faces them. Trials and temptations are not unique to the Christian nor are we exempt. We know that even our Lord faced the devil himself in the wilderness (Mt. 4). What is unique is the Christian’s response to temptation. The devil already knows what to expect when he tempts the worldly minded individual, but when he tempts God’s people, will we allow the tempter to be satisfied or will we resist so that he will flee (James 4:7)?
2. Temptations can actually be blessings—God promises to bless us if we will but endure. The devil’s intentions are always evil but we can turn the tables and make them opportunities whereby we overcome evil with good and in so doing we will be blessed. Romans 12:21 exhorts us to overcome and I John 4:4 reminds us that we can do this because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
3. God is light years ahead of the devil’s game—Our Father knows what each one of His children can handle and therefore will not allow the devil to tempt us beyond what we are able to bear. We can and should take great comfort in this. Whatever the devil is throwing our way God knows we can handle it even if we don’t think we can. AND, He’s going to help us….
4. God will provide a way for us to escape the temptation—the devil may be working around the clock but it is God who is in control of the clock. He is always aware of the devil’s schemes against us and He knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation (II Peter 2:9). Yet we are not without responsibility. We also need to be aware of the devil’s devices (II Cor. 2:11) and always keep an eye out for that escape hatch.
5. God will also provide a great reward if we remain faithful to the end—a crown of life awaits the faithful child of God. This means a life that will continue in the protective care and keeping of our loving God, and above all, it will be a life that is free from the devil’s influence. To the church at Smyrna Jesus said, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you in prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10) These are the precious words of our precious Savior who “has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (I Tim. 1:10)
6. Finally, in all of this we can have joy—“count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4) At first this may seem like a conflicting and contradicting set of terms….joy in trials?! Nevertheless, James reminds us of the prophets of old. They were models of suffering and patience and when we look to their example we can count them blessed because they endured (James 5:10-11). Amazing!
What began that night as a simple reading of James chapter one ended up as a profound reminder of God’s faithfulness. Indeed, we all live in a world that lies under the sway of the wicked one (I John 5:19) and Christians are not immune to his arsenal. Yet we serve a God who has not left us without help or hope. Our God has begotten us again to a living hope and in this we can greatly rejoice, even if for a little while we are grieved by various trials, so that the genuineness of our faith, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:7). Temptation may never sleep but with these points in mind, I took my rest that night, reassured and comforted not only for my own sake but also for the sake of my two boys.
Veronica is blessed to be the wife of Clint Brown. Clint currently preaches for the Farmersville church of Christ in north Texas. She is also blessed to be a stay at home mom to two boys, Jeremy (13) and Joshua (11). She has been a preacher's wife, Bible class teacher, missionary, and a host of other things for the Lord for the past 14 years and she's thankful for every moment God uses to mold her into His image.