Thursday, August 04, 2016

A Thought for Thursday 4 August 2016

“Blessed is the one who endures temptations; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which The Lord has promised to those who love Him.  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 the desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”  James 1:12-15 NKJV

There is a common belief among many “spiritual but not religious” Christians that whatever we are confronted with that seems favorable to us must be a sign from The Lord.  This careless and shallow thinking has led many to inappropriate relationships and other life choices which are actually incompatible with what is written in the Scriptures; but because the desire within us is so strong for a particular thing, we convince ourselves it has been placed before us as something from Above.  This state of being actually comes from selective reading of the Bible when we take passages out of their appropriate contexts; that is, of course, assuming we bother to study the Scriptures at all.

It is sometimes difficult for us to know when or whether we are being “tested”, but we must never believe that what is actually prohibited in the Scripture can somehow be offered to us from the very Inspiration of the Scriptures.  If a thing is wrong according to the Bible, it will not be offered to us from The Lord; and no amount of literary gymnastics will change this.  Believing otherwise is a denial of the steadfastness of The Eternal God.

It is equally difficult to know exactly when or whether the evil one himself is directly tempting us with something that will draw us away from The Lord and His Eternal Word, but we can know that being sanctified in The Lord means we are constantly growing, constantly being forged for something greater than what can be offered in a single moment. 

This is the very reason why our religious faith cannot be segmented in such a way that we have our “Sunday life” and then our “real life”.  There is no time in our daily living that cannot be devoted to The Lord, and there must never be a time at which we convince ourselves we can turn off our religion or cast aside faith.  This, I think, is what James is addressing.  Just as it is written that “there is nothing new under the sun”,  we must not convince ourselves that we face temptations that did not exist until now.  When we do, we convince ourselves that in our own lives, exceptions can be made because “God wants me to be happy”. 

Of course The Lord wants us to be content with what we already have, because this state of contentedness is what helps to protect us from the temptations everyone faces from time to time.  Though we may stumble, it is Divine Grace that picks us up, dusts us off, and strengthens us for what may come next.  There must still be a willingness on our part to try harder, partnering with The Lord and His Church rather than with the world.  “For it is your Father’s great pleasure to give you the Kingdom”.

The Lord is great, is He not?

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