In the face of trials, it is easy to despair and feel we are being punished for doing some wrong. Yesterday we heard that God does not tempt us to do evil nor is he tempted. The struggle is real but the struggle is not with God but with our own desires. We continue today with James 1:14, “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.”
Remember the dating dance, he-loves-me, he-loves-me-not? Or perhaps the years of study, apprenticeship, to become a something. I heard, and think it is true, that adultery does not begin in the bedroom but in the mind that starts “conceiving.” Even as I talk about faith being a journey, sin is a journey. According to James it begins with our desires for love, fame, wealth, security, popularity, prestige – for affirmation from people rather than God. I suspect it is not that obvious but a gradual way of thinking. But thinking is not sin. Anger is not sin. The operative word here is “conceive.” It is not wrong to want love or affirmation or relationship but conceiving implies those god-given desires interact with something else that results in a birth. I often speak about that little voice on our shoulder that tempts us, that whispers thought of doubt about God’s word, God’s will and God’s way. Did God really say don’t eat … that apple? God certainly wouldn’t want you to not be wise and the apple brings wisdom. God doesn’t want you being a begger, asking him about everything. There’s an easier way. The story of Eve in the garden shares the path of desire. When doubt enters…now we are back to James’ premise that “he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” He is unstable, caught between two forces.
Trials come and that is not necessarily a punishment. But within the trial, for sure will be the little voice, tempting us not to persevere God’s way. God is not tempting us. When we cave in to greed, lust, hate, violence, jealousy, anger, we conceive sin that leads to death, if not literally but at least socially and emotionally. I do not know where we will be tempted to despair today, to give in, but I find it comforting that those moments of exhaustion are not wrong in and of themselves but opportunities to stop and evaluate. Perhaps we are tired, worried, concerned legitimately, challenged truly but we can always choose to stop and turn to God. He is the author of every good gift and that we’ll hear tomorrow. Blessings.

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