James: Life or Death, It’s Your Choice

by frazzledmama on November 10, 2011

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12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 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. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

I wanted to start off by grabbing a couple of definitions. I always find it helpful to give myself a reminder when it comes to familiar words. As usual, I consulted Miriam-Webster:

Temptation: the act of tempting or the state of being temped especially to evil : enticement.

Tempting: having an appeal: enticing

Enticement: to attract artfully or adroitly(with skill) or by arousing hope or desire: tempt

The first thing I’d like to point out is that no where in verse 12 does it mention Satan.  Verse 13 takes things a step further and makes it very clear to us that God is not our tempter, and that He cannot even BE tempted.  I’d like to suggest that much of our temptation comes from our own hearts and minds.  I know it is easy to fall back on the familiar saying, “The devil made me do it.” but I believe that this passage teaches us that we are greatly tempted by our own sinful nature.  Remember Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things,
      And desperately wicked;
      Who can know it?

Oh, look at that! Verse 14 goes on to say that we are tempted by our own desires.  Our minds are such powerful tools, tools that can build us up or tear us down.  You know, many time sin begins in our minds.  It begins when we are unhappy with the Lord’s provision for us, lets say, in our spouse.  I wish my spouse was fill in the blank… wealthier, thinner, more attentive, you get the idea.  If we continue to dwell on these things that we view as negatives in our spouse, inevitably, we will become more and more dissatisfied with our spouse. We may even begin to have somewhat of a roving eye…we might begin to imagine what our lives would be like with that ideal man or woman, who only lives in our imaginations….The more we dwell, the easier it will be to act on those thoughts.  How do I know?  Verse 15… Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Going back to my example, if you make it a daily habit to be thankful for your spouse, to pray for them and encourage them, how likely do you think you would be to have an affair (physical or otherwise)?  I’m guessing that you would be shocked and appalled with such a proposition.

Now, think about this, if you are constantly dissatisfied with your spouse, it consumes your thoughts, they can never do anything right…you think about how much better your life would be if you were with someone like fill in the blank.. How would your response differ?  The dissatisfaction has been simmering in your heart for months, maybe years….Wouldn’t it be easier, and more palatable to your heart and mind to enter into an affair?

What does our passage tell us about desire?  It gives birth to sin!

Then, our author James reminds us, that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father…with whom there is NO variation!  He reminds us that we are to be the first fruits of His creatures.  Have you ever thought about what it means to be the “first fruits” of God’s creatures?  I have!  I did a Google search and found an interesting article.  For the sake of time, I am only quoting one sentence,

Thus farmers in the Holy Land were required, early in the season, to mark those specimens of the designated fruits and grains that were most advanced in their maturation.
Read more:

HOLD THE PHONE! You mean God brought us forth to be “advanced in maturation” of His creatures?  That is His desire for us, that we would become mature in the Lord, and not just mature, but advanced in maturation!  We’re talking the GOLD reading group here people.   You know, in elementary school, when the teacher split you up into groups and the best readers were always the gold group?  YES!!! That is where God wants you!  He doesn’t want you in the blue, green, or black group, He wants you in the gold group, He desires that we would be advanced in maturity. 

More than that He desires that we would resist temptation, so that we can receive that crown of life that He has promised.  Friend, He wants us to make choices that bring us life, not death.

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