Summary: Sermon discusses the importance of choices made during trying experiences and how to make wise choices.
Navigating Your Trial Successfully
We’ve been talking about trials in James Chapter one. In the first 12 verses we learned that if we persevere through the trial, God will work some wonderful things in us during the process and in the end we will receive a crown of life. James’ encouragement to persevere culminates in verse 12 where he writes, “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.”
That verse serves as a bridge into an aspect of trials that we are all familiar with—temptation. The external circumstance is not the only thing we have to deal with when in a trial. There is also our own internal response that has to be considered as well. The Greek word, peirasmos, is translated trials in verse 2 and temptation in verse 12. The translators were right to do that because the context tells us James is using a different nuance of the word in the discussion that follows (verses 13-18). Peirasmos can refer to both the external hardships that we experience in our circumstances and the internal struggles that may go on as well. James’ overall theme has not changed; but now the focus turns to the dynamic of temptation.
When the stress is on, how will I respond? Will I draw near to God and trust Him to get me through the ordeal. Or will I grow resentful toward God and accuse Him of being unfair?
During Job’s trial what was he tempted to do? Curse God and die—that’s what his wife told him to do (Job 2:9). Raise your fist toward heaven and curse God for all this junk that’s hit your life. That’s pretty dramatic; but the temptation was very real. Fortunately, Job didn’t do that. He got close. He cursed the day he was born. He was tempted to curse God for all his troubles; but he didn’t do it.
In the first 12 verses, James has told us the good things that happen if we trust God through our trails. But to be fair and balanced (as Fox News puts it) James now has to deal with the other possibility as well. A trial will never leave us the same. It always requires us to choose between one of two responses. (1) We can trust God and faithfully endure the ordeal and gain from the experience. (2) Or we can get real made at God and turn against Him—draw back from Him and go our own way. That’s what we see happening in verses 13-15.
James 1:13-15 “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.”
Are you in a trial? How are you responding? Are you drawing closer to God or are you drawing back from God? The fact that you’re here this morning is a good indication that you’re moving toward God rather than away from Him. Remember what James told us to do in a trial? In verse 5 he tells us to ask God for wisdom. I have thought a lot about that this last week. Our tendency is to just ask God to remove the pressure-whatever it is. But maybe that’s not the right prayer. Maybe the right prayer is to say, “God, give me insight on how I can respond correctly to this situation. Give me wisdom to cooperate with what You’re doing. Show me what You want me to do; and I’ll do it.” I feel James is telling us something that we have missed in years past. A key to answered prayer is to ask the right prayer. James 1:5 tells us exactly what to pray. We are to pray for wisdom. Wisdom from above will help us respond rightly.
From verses 13-18, I want to share with you three keys to navigating your trial successfully.
1st Take Responsibility for your choices.
James 1:13 “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.” When you are tempted to curse God and die, when you are tempted to murmur and complain, when you are tempted to get drunk and kick the dog because it was a bad, bad day—don’t blame God for your choice. The inclination to do that does not come from God. It comes from some stuff inside you. The pressures are not making you do those kinds of things. The trial is not making you sin; it is only exposing what’s inside.