James Study Day 4
James continues in 1:13-15:
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. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (NIV)
I have to admit that this is a scripture that sometimes trips people. Since God is in control of everything, therefore He has to be behind the “tempting”. I guess in a way that is true. But that is a slippery slope that we need to watch going down. He does not decide one day to put the temptation in front of you and force you to give in. That is not how He works. I guess from that perspective you need to learn more about God Himself before making a black and white decision on His personality. In this way He is not unlike any other person walking around – you cannot judge Him on how you think you see Him. You need to get to His heart to truly know him.
We have to first realize that God knows everything. He knows the past, the things done in the dark, and knows us so well that He knows our very next move. That is what makes Him God. He knows that your weakness is flesh, alcohol, foul language, money, or a multitude of other things. You can’t “blame” Him for that since He knows everything. Let’s look at in a hypothetical situation.
You have always had an eye for the ladies. Your first instinct when one walks by is to follow her with your eyes. You’ve never given in. You’ve been happily married for 10 years. Now, God knows this. After all He is God. A new sales rep has joined your firm. She is a looker. Everyone, even the women, will admit that. So, who can blame you when you take that second or third look? Doesn’t hurt anyone. Right? Now, let’s ask this question. Did God make you look? Didn’t feel His hands on your head forcing it around. You are admitting deep down inside that you wanted to look and enjoyed what you saw. Work is getting into a season in which a lot of overtime is expected. This happens every year so that it is not surprising. It is also not surprising when the new hire is assigned to your group since you have the most sales so far and are usually assigned the newbies. Late nights? Nothing new or unusual set up to trap you. New team member? Nothing new or unusual there, either. Thursday night rolls around and due to technical difficulties that was no one fault the computers were down and now you are hours behind on a deadline for morning. You, as the lead, volunteer to stay late. The new hire also does since she wants to learn from the best. Before the night is over you notice that hands touch a little more often, the touch lingers a little longer each time, your eyes seem to keep connecting. Before you know it, you volunteer a little more often to work late even after the busy season is over. You’ve now entered the world of betrayal and adultery. You made these decisions yourself each and every step of the way. Yes, He knew this was going on. He could have stopped if you were just a puppet that He controlled at His whim. But that is not Him. He loves us so much that He allows us the freedom to expand our wings and fly. Love includes letting us out of the nest even when we know there could be a cross-wind.
In this situation, the desire was already in you. The question doesn’t become who put it there, but instead what did you do about it. A second or third look can be very harmful, can be deadly.
In your notebook that you keep your thoughts and growth in (if you don’t have one, begin one today) list out what you know as of today as your weaknesses and areas where you could be most tempted. Believe it or not, this is list is not nearly done. There are so many things in our lives lurking below the surface that we discuss new insights into ourselves all the time. Revisit this list daily, weekly, monthly. Make it part of your quiet time to review this list. As you review, note where you are cutting the problem off at the pass. Note where you tend to give in the most. This will help you become more aware. When you are aware you will be able to prevent temptation from growing and from giving into it in the first place. Very wise people know their own weaknesses, admit to them, and try to turn them into strengths.
Step 1 – List out your areas of temptation
Step 2 – List places/situations where temptation raises its head
Step 3 – Note how to avoid the situation
Step 4 – Note ways to protect self if situation cannot be avoided
Step 5 – If steps 3 and 4 cannot be done or seems impossible, recruit an accountability partner to help
With each step, go to God and give it to Him. If you don’t know how, ask someone you trust.