Summary: We own our own desires, actions and their outcomes... it is God’s will that our lives be characterized by good desires that lead to good deeds that benefit ourselves, bless others and please God.

Title: The Jig Is Up

Text: James 1:13-17

Thesis: We own our own desires, actions and outcomes… It is God’s will that our lives be characterized by good desires that lead us to do good deeds that benefit ourselves and others and please God.


One of my favorite stories is The Songcatcher. The Songcatcher is set in a secluded area of the Appalachian Mountains where some of the immigrant families have lived since the 1600s. It is 1907 and a very prim musicologist travels to visit her sister who runs a school in that remote area of West Virginia. The musicologist is amazed when she hears the local musicians playing traditional Scots-Irish folk music. What she hears is a virtual treasure trove of ancient folk tunes and ballads that had been passed down from generation to generation. The music she heard was like what we enjoy as Irish folk music and one of the dances associated with that music is the jig.

A “jig” is a lively, springy, irregular dance for one or more persons, usually in triple meter. If you have ever witnessed someone dancing a jig it is done with kind of a jerky or bobbing up and down with a to and fro motion. Sometimes it just looks like hopping from one foot to the other in time with a lively tune. But some of the more sophisticated jigs are all of those things plus amazing foot moves, toe-tapping and kicking.

Somewhere along the line they began to say, “Well, the jig is up!” By that it could simply mean the dance is over or the dance is over and it’s time to pay the piper.

Over time however, the phrase “the jig is up” has come to mean the game or the trick or the deception is over and has been exposed. Our text today is a “the jig is up” text.

Bart Simpson is big into deception and denial. One of his favorite sayings is, “I didn’t do it, no one saw me do it, there’s no way you can prove anything.” However, James is pretty perceptive. James knows that most of us are prone to deny personal responsibility for our actions and blame others for our bad behavior.

It began in the Garden of Eden Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. As part of his act on The Flip Wilson Show, Flip Wilson used to say, “The devil made me do it.” We may blame our ethnicity for our Irish tempers, Swedish or German stubbornness, Italian amorousness, or our Scotch cheapskate ways. We may even blame God for our behavior.

Blaming God seems to be the issue of the hour in our text. Apparently some of the people were suggesting that God made everything and if God made everything – God must have made evil too. They may have been saying that God made me and inside me is a good me and a bad me. So if God made me this way, God is in a way is responsible for my actions.

In response to that James says, “The jig is up!”

God is not responsible for the evil we do. So no more denying the truth and no more blaming God for what you do.

I. God is never tempted to do wrong and never tempts us to do wrong.

No one should ever say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong and he never tempts anyone else either. Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, an evil actions lead to death. James 1:13-15

A. Evil desires originate within us.

James uses the term “lure” which means to be drawn out. The idea is that a hunter uses a lure or bait to entice his prey to come out of hiding. Or a fisherman uses a lure or bait to get a fish to come out of the weeds to take the bait.

One of the unusual (and in my mind unsportsmanlike) phenomena I encountered when I first began taking vacation time in the UP, was the sale of bait prior to deer season. It seemed that at every service station, apples and ear corn were for sale for the purpose of baiting deer. The idea is that a hunter goes into the thick woods and finds a good spot to begin leaving ear corn and apples. The deer find it and get used to an easy meal and return every day to gobble up the bait. Then one chilly day the hunter lies in wait for the unsuspecting deer and boom… the hunter has a freezer full of fresh venison.

What James is attempting to do is help us determine if the lure is set to entice us or if it is our own desires that entice us to find what we are desiring. Is the corn or the apple the problem for the deer or is it the hunger of the deer and the willingness of the deer to cast all caution to the wind that causes its demise?

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