Persevering under trial.
By Patrick G Howard
James 1:12 – God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Our focus this month comes from James (the brother of Jesus) and his letter to the twelve tribes. Written just a few years after Jesus’ time on Earth, it is an exhortation to Jewish Christians everywhere during their time of persecution, giving them practical instructions on how to live out their faith.
Talk about pressure.
How would you like to be the sibling of the most influential person the Earth ever has, or ever will see? Especially when you add the fact that just mentioning the name of Jesus at that time could result in your torture and death. (And you thought it was bad when you got flamed on Facebook for posting that slightly controversial meme the other day.)
As I read the book of James today, I could see him standing at the front of a CBFA meeting giving the Focus of the Month. After all, his message is essentially our mission – We are Christians all day, every day, at home, at work and in the community. The first chapter of this book alone is full of wonderful advice on how to apply Christian principals to our every day lives, but our focus this month is on the twelfth verse.
To fully understand his message here, it is helpful to place this verse into proper context and read verses 12 through 15 …
(12) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (13) And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong. And he never tempts anyone else. (14) Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. (15) These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
What James is trying to say is this. Jesus already told us what we should or should not do. However, due to circumstances, we will, from time to time, be tempted to take the easy path and do otherwise. When we are tempted, we must recognize that it is not from God, but rather from our own desires. And when we turn away from what we know is wrong, and instead do what we know is right, we will be rewarded. What was true then, is true now.
Of course, It isn’t always easy to do the Christian thing today.
With rising costs, government regulation, massive competition, and many other challenges facing the modern entrepreneur, it is frequently tempting to at least walk along the edge of the straight and narrow road. But don’t do it. When you’re walking that close to the edge, it only takes one tiny stumble … one little slip … to fall into the ditch. And when you think about it, the ditch is where the mud is; and once you get in the mud, you’re going to need a bunch of help to get you back on the road again.
So, the next time you are tempted to tell a little fib about why you aren’t going to make a deadline … or reduce the quality of your product or service to make a few extra bucks … or add water to that chicken to make it seem bigger …
Yes, it can sometimes be tempting to not do the right thing when you know that nobody will ever find out. (By the way, God already knows.) But when you are tempted … when you are tested … focus on James’ letter and persevere. Do what is right, instead. You’ll be glad you did.