James 1:13-18 — For our good

“Why is God doing this to me? Does he want me to fall?”

Sometimes, as we go through trials, that’s how we feel. That God actually wants us to fail so that he can punish us.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, God allows trials in our lives, but it is not to punish us or break us. Rather, he allows these trials that we might become “mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (1:3)

And so James tells us,

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (13-15)

The word “tempt” in Greek is actually the verb form of the word “trial.” Because of that, perhaps James’ readers got confused when hearing that God “tests” us. Many people have the same confusion today.

Yes, God tests us. He wants to see what is inside of us, and he wants to use these tests to strengthen our faith in him.

But God never tempts us to do evil. He never says, “Hey why don’t you lust after this girl,” or, “Why don’t you start berating your spouse,” or, “Why don’t you curse me?”

All these temptations, James tells us, come not from God, but from our own sinful selves. Our own sinful desires lure us, and if we take the bait, it gives birth to sin, and eventually leads to death.

But that’s not what God desires for us.

Rather James tells us,

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (16-18)

In other words, every act of giving from God is good. And every gift that he gives us is perfect. There is no malicious giving on his part. And there is no gift that he gives that is defective. And that shows in the gift of salvation. God could have left us to die in our sins. But rather, he chose to give us life through his Son.

And God is not like shifting shadows, who one day will seek to bless us, and the other to destroy us. Rather, again, his goal is that we might become whole and complete. That we would, as the writer of Hebrews puts it, “share in his holiness.” (Hebrews 12:10).

So remember that whatever you’re going through, God is not trying to destroy you. He’s not trying to wreck your life. We do enough of that on our own.

Rather, through our trials, he’s trying to teach us to trust him. And as we learn this, we see God’s goodness and faithfulness, and come out through the fire as pure gold, whole, complete, lacking nothing.



About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: crossroad-web.com 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください: crossroad-web.com
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