Summary: Satan and God have two very different ways they want us to look at trouble and temptation in our life.
"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren." (James 1:12-16)
A poor country pastor was livid when he confronted his wife with the receipt for a $250 dress she had bought. “How could you do this!” he exclaimed. “I don’t know,” she wailed, “I was standing in the store looking at the dress and then I found myself trying it on. It was like the Devil was whispering to me, ‘Gee, you look great in that dress. You should buy it.’” “Well,” the pastor persisted, “You know how to deal with him! Just tell him, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’” “I did,” replied his wife, “but then he said ‘It looks great from back here, too.’” (From Wriggling off the Hook by Patrick Allen). Indeed, Satan and God do have two very different ways they want us to look at trouble and temptation in our life
I. THE PURPOSE OF TRIALS
God does have a purpose for His children in allowing us to go through trials and trouble in our lives.
A. Trials Can Give Us a Kingdom Attitude.
When we go though trials and persevere we are blessed. Blessings in the Bible always have to do with the learning to see things from God’s point of view. They have to do with Kingdom Attitudes. Jesus stressed this in The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) when He told us that blessing (Matthew 5) are centered around seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). If we learn to see trials from God’s point of view they will build in our hearts and minds an attitude toward life that is God-centered rather than man-centered
B. Trials Can Also Give Us Something At Which to Aim
James 1:12 says blessed is the man who endures. The verb is in the Present Tense indicating a continuing determination to endure. God wants us to hang in there with Him while in our trials. A mark of true love is that it has that quality of hanging in there in spite of the weights laid upon it (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a).
The blessing comes for those who hang in there through trials and see them to the end with God. Michael Jordan, said this about success. “I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And, that is why I succeed” (Michael Jordan, quoted in Wit and Wisdom, February 16, 1999). God is seeking to teach us to hang in there with Him even when troubles will tell us we are failing rather than succeeding.
When we hang in there with God our aim becomes being approved (v.12). That word means “proven genuine.” The word dokimos (approved) is often found on pottery unearthed in the Middle East. It was equivalent to The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Pottery that was cracked or otherwise damaged was stamped adokimos (or not approved). Our troubles should aim us toward being proven genuine by God (see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 1 Peter 1:6-7).
C. Trials Can Lead To a Worthy Award.
At the end of life every believer will receive the crown of life (v.12). Life is often shown to be like a great athletic contest for which there is a crown of reward to the one who finishes the race (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). This is not a crown of salvation but a crown that comes from knowing that through this life we are counted as those who love Him (v.12). The crown of life we receive for trusting Him in our trials is a mark of our love for Him. Those crowns will be given back to Him in heaven because only Christ could have gotten us through those trials with a Kingdom Attitude (see Revelation 4).
II. THE PROBLEM WITH TRIALS
In spite of all the benefits that trials can have for those who know Christ as Lord and Savior, there are some real problems with trials.
A. Trials Can Deceive Us
Verse 16 clearly warns us, do not be deceived. The word for deceive means to cause to wander and is the same used of straying sheep in Matthew 18:12. Troubles can tempt us to wander away from the God we know and what we know about God.