Resisting temptation is very hard. We are faced with temptation every day, in both big and small ways. The temptation may be something very simple, like a high calorie lunch or a new pair of shoes. Or, it may be something far more difficult with life changing consequences, such as considering adultery or worshiping an idol. Temptation is all around us, in everything we so, everywhere we go and everything we do. It exists in the stores, on television, in our neighborhood and on the internet. Temptation can be a very difficult companion to avoid.
But James writes in this verse on being tested. He speaks to anyone who endures temptation and returns to the theme of being testes and enduring. In contrast to verse 2:8 in which testing produced endurance and endurance produced maturity, here failure to endure produces blaming God, sin and death. Test or trial and temptation translate as the same word, and the context in which they are used determines their translation. The introduction of desire, sin, evil and deception in verses 13-16 has led several current bible translations to shift to temptation, even when the test or temptation remains unspecified. The one who endures temptation receives a blessing that is the crown of life. This concept is repeated in Matthew 5:11-12 and Revelation 2:10 and 3:11.
A really confounding verse, isn’t it? Every time we pray the familiar words of The Lord’s Prayer, we pray, 'Lead us not into temptation.' Perhaps this is all that we can do. We can try to avoid being led into temptation whenever and wherever it exists. We can pray that we may have the strength to resist temptation, even when it seems small, harmless and is easily attained. For, as James (or the writer of this letter) writes, resisting temptation will bring us the crown of life.
Help us to live our lives, O Lord, with the strength to resist temptation and to follow your holy ways. Lead us not into temptation and help us to turn away from it whenever we encounter it. May we, like James teaches, shun temptation and receive the crown of life from God. Help is, loving Jesus, to not be envious or to practice deception, since these are not the ways of God’s people. We ask this to the glory of your holy name.
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