"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. When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." (James 1:12-14)
I have heard people say, "This is a test, God is tempting me!" Is that true? Does God send us temptation to see if we can resist it? James
certainly seems to say otherwise. God wants us to be holy. He wants all humankind to be saved and come to faith in Him...and yet that doesn't happen. The hardships of the world weigh us down, we give into temptation and people reject the free gift of God's love. I have heard people say, "If God was a loving God then why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?" It is easy to view God as the animator who draws cartoons only to squash them by anvils, run them over with trucks and strike them with lightning.
If we are looking for someone to blame for the messed up world we live in, we can start by looking in the mirror. God doesn't tempt us with evil and smite us from the sky. Our hardships and temptations come from the devil, the world and our own sinful self. That's where the blame lies. We suffer from our own wrong choices and the wrong choices of others in our society. People don't starve to death because God is cruel, they starve to death because other people are greedy and don't share their food. Disease, sickness and death were all absent from the Garden of Eden before we humans messed it up. Even sin is our own fault! We allow ourselves to be put in tempting situations. The devil doesn't even have to work very hard, we do a pretty good job of it on our own. Once we see how miserably we have ruined God's design, we find that the finger of blame falls far from Him.
You would think that all this sinfulness and "God blaming" would be enough to make Him pretty sick and tired of us...and yet He fixes our messes. God works all for the good of those that are His. He changes hardships and trials into opportunities to grow and help others. When others hurt us with their sinful actions toward us, He changes it into a chance for us to grow stronger and rely on Him. He changes what was bad into good for us!
When humanity ruined His perfect design and allowed sin into the world, our loving God intervened. He changed that terrible temptation into an opportunity to show us His love in Jesus. We mess it up and God cleans it up. Wow. What a loving God we have! He forgives us for the times we give in to temptation and took the punishment for us. He doesn't send sin and temptation; He erases them with His blood. He forgives us and enables us to resist future temptation. By the power of His Holy Spirit in us, we can be used to glorify Him and point others to Him. He changes what was sinful and bad into something He can use!
How has God brought good out of a bad situation in your life this week? What have you noticed Him transform into good?
Dear Lord, Thank you for helping us overcome temptation! Forgive us for blaming you for our ruined world. Thank you for changing even the worst situation the entrance of sin into the world- into a chance to show us your love. Thank you for changing death into life and for changing us from slaves to your beloved children. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Jessica is a forgiven child of God. Nothing else matters as much as that. God has additionally blessed her with the opportunity to serve as the LYF and Young Adult Ministry Coordinator for LCMS Youth Ministry and DCE at Timothy Lutheran Church in St Louis. Jessica earned a BA in Elementary and Middle School Education at Concordia University Wisconsin and MA in Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, St Louis. She has served in congregational, educational, and outdoor ministries since 1999. Jessica lives in St Louis with her best friend and husband, Adrian.