Summary: God wants us to keep holding on to Him while trusting that He is not holding out on us!
Holding On, not Out
James 1:12-18 12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
Intro: James started this chapter by talking about the suffering we encounter as we do life with God. Today we will look at the blessing for withstanding those tests and trials, but we will also acknowledge that we bring some of our suffering on ourselves by rejecting God’s leadership in our lives. There is no shortage of suffering in this world and in our lives. But, far too often people do their own thing and sin against God, and then turn around and blame God for their suffering. Sometimes they might even say that God is the One who took them down their path of temptation and failure. James is quick to say that God’s way of testing us does not lead us into temptation to sin. We lead ourselves there based on our lack of trust in God and our own desires to get what we want.
-The magazine “Discipleship Journal” asked its readers to rank the areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them. The results came back with the top 5 as follows:
1. Materialism, 2. Pride, 3. Self-centeredness, 4. Laziness, 5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness and Sexual lust.
The respondents also noted that temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God (81%) and when they were physically tired (57%).
The readers stated that they had found that the greatest assets in resisting temptation to be “prayer (84%), avoiding compromising situations (76%), Bible study (66%), and being accountable to someone else (52%). Temptation is beatable, but not in our own strength.
[R. J. Morgan. Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes (electr.) (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000)]
-Is anybody here tempted by chocolate? One person had this to say when they were told that they had to give up chocolate as a part of their diet. “A good piece of chocolate has about 200 calories. As I enjoy 2 servings per night, and a few more on weekends. I consume 3,500 calories of chocolate in a week, which equals one pound of weight per week. Therefore, in the last 3 1/2 years, I have had the chocolate caloric intake equivalent to about 180 pounds, and I only weigh 155 pounds, so without chocolate, I would have wasted away to nothing about 3 months ago! I owe my life to chocolate.”
-Well, I don’t know about that, but I do know that God wants to help us beat temptation and then reward us for staying true to Him. Here’s the main thought of this message:
Prop: God wants us to keep holding on to Him while trusting that He is not holding out on us!
TS: Let’s examine some ideas James sends our way as we look at trials, temptations, and rewards.
I. The Reward for Enduring Tests and Trials (12)
12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
-The idea of passing the test or trial here is more than a passive endurance. As one scholar said, “It is not the patience that can sit down and bow its head, letting things descend upon it in passive endurance until the storm is passed. It is the spirit that can bear things, not simply with resignation, but with blazing hope” (Rogers, 554). And hope is an essential ingredient, as it is so closely linked with faith. It requires a high level of trust to embrace the tests and trials of life, believing that God is with us, working His character deep within us!
-Now what about this payoff? Those who embrace their trials with blazing hope and stand the test will receive the crown of life. This crown of life is so much more than something to wear on your head. The crown of life is the high point of doing life with God. The payoff is that we will see God and be with Him! The payoff refers to the fulfillment of the new covenant God gave to mankind: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).