Summary: 3rd in series on James. True faith is often displayed in its reaction to trouble. Trials produce opportunities for growth and development in the Christian life.
Chuck Swindoll tells of a mountain man from West Virginia who had never seen a city, or bright lights and modern inventions. He married a girl of the hills and they spent all their married years in the backwoods. Their one son, creatively named “Junior,”
reached his sixteenth birthday, [and] his dad began to realize it wouldn’t be too many years before their son would become a man and would strike out on his own. It troubled him that his boy could reach manhood and wind up getting a job in the city, not prepared to face the real world. He felt responsible and decided to do something about it.
He and his wife started saving for a trip the three of them would take to the city. About three years later the big day arrived. They tossed their be-longings in the ol’ pickup and started the long journey over winding, rough roads to the city. Their plan was to spend several days at a swanky hotel and take in all the sights. As they approached the outskirts of the metropolis, Papa began to get a little jumpy: “Mama, when we pull up at th’ hotel, you stay in th’ truck while Junior an’ I go in an’ look around. We’ll come back and git ya, okay?” She agreed.
Flashing neon lights and uniformed doormen greeted them as they pulled up. Mama stayed put as Papa and Junior walked wide-eyed toward the lobby. Neither could believe his eyes! When they stepped on a mat, the doors opened automatically. Inside, they stood like statues, staring at the first chandelier either of them had ever seen. It hung from a ceiling three stories high. Off to the left was an enormous waterfall, rippling over inlaid stones and rocks. “Junior, look!” Papa was pointing toward a long mall where busy shoppers were going in and out of beautiful stores. “Papa, looka there!” Down below was an ice-skating rink — inside.
While both stood silent watching one breathtaking sight after another, they kept hearing a clicking sound behind them. Finally, Papa turned around and saw this amazing little room with doors that slid open from the center. “What in the world?” People would walk up, push a button and wait. Lights would flicker above the doors and then, “click,” the doors would slide open from the middle. Some people would walk out of the little room and others would walk inside and turn around as, “click,” the doors slid shut.
By now, dad and son stood totally transfixed. At that moment a wrinkled old lady shuffled up to the doors all by herself. She pushed the button and waited only a few seconds. “Click,” the doors opened with a swish and she hobbled into the little room. No one else stepped in with her, so “click,” the doors slid shut. Not more than twenty seconds later the doors opened again — and there stood this fabulously attractive blonde, a young woman in her twenties — high heels, shapely body, beautiful face — a real knockout! As she stepped out, smiled, and turned to walk away, Papa nudged his boy and mumbled, “Hey, Junior …go git Mama! [Charles R. Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity (Waco: Word Books, 1987), 147].”
That old mountain man wanted an instant transformation for his wife. Like him, we often want instant spiritual alterations. The Book of James offers no such false hope. We can’t instantly transform either our wives or our lives. This short epistle makes it abundantly clear that the Christian life is a process.
True faith is most often displayed by its reaction to trouble. The Greek word translated “trials” in v 2 where the emphasis is on the trials and tests that develop maturity, is translated “tempted” in v 13. External trials produce opportunities for growth and development in the Christian life. Temptations come as enticements to sin.
When James writes about temptation he’s dealing with real stuff. These are not wistful thoughts from a pastor’s musty study, but painful, uncomfortable realities of life. Temptation strikes in the executive suite, but also in the home. It affects parents as well as children, teachers and students, management and labor, pastor and parishioner. And it is always present. James leaves no question that it’s assault will come. The question is never “if” it will attack, but when. In this life we will never know a time when we are not susceptible to arousal toward wrongdoing.
I. THE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION - vv. 13-14
When temptation assails and you reach the point of yielding, you may look for a scapegoat. When no one else can be blamed you may even accuse God. But James says, no matter what the circumstances, temptation is
1. Not from God – v. 13