Thursday, September 1, 2016

Blessings under trial

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death James 1:12-15 ESV

This passage always seemed so "preachy" and dull to me. Remaining steadfast under trial seems like such a hard, joyless life to live, but there is more to this passage than just changing our behavior.

A very simple analogy is my love for coffee and a cookie. I would love to sit down every afternoon for 20 minutes and eat a cookie, drink a cup of coffee and read. However, I always feel very shaky and weak when I eat a cookie and drink coffee, or if I even eat anything sweet. My desire for the coffee and cookie tempts me almost every day. I have been enduring this temptation because I know how bad I feel if I give in to it. I have noticed, however, that as I go along, the desire for coffee and cookies diminishes. Now, it does not take as much effort abstain from drinking coffee and eating a cookie as it once did.

The same principle applies to any sin. If we remain steadfast to what we know is right, the wrong behavior will become less important to us. I love this line from Walt Disney's Cinderella. Cinderella is talking to the dog about his rivalry with the cat.

Cinderella: [to Bruno, the dog] "Dreaming again? Chasing Lucifer? Catch him this time? That's bad. Suppose they heard you upstairs. You know the orders. So if you don't want to lose a warm, nice bed, you'd better get rid of those dreams. Know how? Just learn to like cats."

Changing our attitude, changing our desires requires steadfast endurance and constant work, but it eventually becomes easier. I will probably never stop liking cookies and coffee, but I certainly can live very happily without either one. When I change my desires, other things become more important to me.

I did not intend for my examples to trivialize the very hard trials that we all go through. I did not mean to sound trite. Most of our trials are not as simple as learning to not like coffee and cookies, or learning to like cats. However, when we work hard to change our behavior, our desires will change too, and that is what God wants. He wants us to take our eyes off of the temptation, and focus on Him.