James 1:1-8, 12-15
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. . .
Verse 2 (NIV)
Has this verse ever caused you some discomfort? Have you ever tried to give up a particular pattern of behaviour or tried to kick a bad habit? Just a few days after “quitting,” you’re ready to take up the old habit again. The feeble attempt of trying to quit was little more than a miserable exercise doomed to failure. Emphasis on the miserable for everyone near the person trying to kick the habit.
James puts it this way, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” This is because our sinful nature still clings to our “old self” and we are powerless to fight it in our own strength. There is nothing more difficult than denying our “old self.” We need God’s help always to live the “new life” we have been called to live.
Destructive behaviours and bad habits that we struggle to deny often reveal desires that harm the body and stifle the soul. Wherever we are, such desires inevitably surface to foil our best attempts at maturing in the faith.
James writes, testing develops perseverance, a dedication to grow and mature in Christian patience and wisdom. And perseverance includes the disappointments of our miserable failures. And when our disappointments reveal a hidden temptation, we can be thankful to God, who gives “wisdom” generously to all without finding fault. “Without finding fault,” is important. God is our help and strength – always. All too often we shy away from failure believing that God’s main purpose is to point out our failures and that is not the heart of God.
There is great joy in God’s gift of wisdom to discern an unhealthy desire or habit and to work at disciplining yourself, to conform to the mind of Christ. Have you asked God for wisdom to withstand temptations?
Under the shadow of your wings, Lord, give me the wisdom and strength to persevere in my walk with you. Amen.