Temptations Welcomed

(James 1:13–18)

I remember my first visit to a fun house. It was on Coney Island, in New York. Inside, mirror after mirror reflected a distorted image of me and my date. In one mirror we looked short and squat, in another we were thin above the waist, and lumpy below. And though I rather liked the one that made me look slender, I wasn’t sorry to leave.
Christians sometimes have a fun house view of temptations. Situations in which we feel tempted are looked at as hulking and dangerous, or as wildly appealing. Sometimes such a situation even seems like a trap, set by God to trip us up.

James wants us to leave our house of mirrors, and see temptations for what they are. In themselves, the situations we find ourselves in are neither evil, nor dangerous, nor appealing, nor traps. What transforms a situation into a temptation comes from within us: we are tempted by our thoughts and reactions, our feelings and desires. While the situation we find ourselves in may be from God, the temptation we feel in them is not.

James reminds us of something utterly important. God gives only “good and perfect gift[s].” God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. This means that the situation in which we feel temptation is itself good—even though the evil in us wants to twist it into something evil. In saying “every good and perfect gift is from above” James calls on us to radically change our perspective, and look at the situation we see as an evil as something wonderful and good.

But how can this be? Again, James explained. God, the Giver of good gifts, “Chose to give us birth through the Word of truth.” There’s more than “evil desire” in our hearts! There is a new and wonderful life, the very life of God, flowing through us now. And the same situation that as a temptation provides an opportunity for our evil desires to trip us up, provides an opportunity for the new life from God to enable us to stand! We don’t have to give in to the evil impulses that entice us and would drag us into sin. God’s new creation frees us to bring forth beauty, and good. In this wonderful sense, every situation and every trial, and even every temptation, is a good and perfect gift from our loving God.

Personal Application
Transform your temptations into triumphs by choosing to do good.

“Why comes temptation but for man to meet
And master and make crouch beneath his feet,
And so be pedestaled in triumph?”
-Robert Browning

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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