Begin by rereading our focal passage ~ James 1:12-20.
In our last post we covered the path to protection from temptation as we looked at watching our love walk, especially love for God; remembering secondly that evil is not God’s desire for us—evil being anything less than God’s desire, will and way; and third, God’s idea of good is His ideal for us, so follow the good. Continuing the seven guiding principles to victory in our endurance that withstands the trials and temptations of life, thus achieving the righteousness of God as we choose faith in Him, we press on to the fourth aid to our journey:
Fourth: God leads by the way of truth.
God’s truth sets free indeed. Those who hear His voice and follow Him will walk in the truth of God and be set free from the stress of trying to keep the laws in their own strength. My missionary friend said something the other day that struck me as odd until I thought about it and realized the truth of his words.
My daughter brought a cookie cake in with her. I said, “O, she is tempting us.” He said, “You tempt yourself.”
What he is saying is that though Satan sets something before us to bring temptation to us, it is only because he knows our lusts. It is our own lusts that tempt us. “…for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust….” It is a truth I needed to hear, and ponder. Satan sets traps intended to test our love of God, and/or challenge our emotional responses, and/or tempt us to our lusts. It is our choice whether we are tempted and given to fall into his trap.
“All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies” ~ Psalm 25:10.
“It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect” ~ Psalm 18:30-32.
Fifth: be quick to hear.
STOP when temptation comes:
S ~ Set your mind on the things of God
T ~ Take a moment to inhale Him and get His thoughts and His heart
O ~ Observe His ways by walking in Obedience to His leading
P ~ Pause to listen for Him before pressing forward, then do so with assurance of God’s will and way set before you
“…Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren…” our focal passage warns us. God’s desire for us is good. Therefore we must take time to hear Him and do the good. Just as we can avoid relational discord by taking time to listen with hearing ears, so we can avoid fleshly struggle that falls in the trials of life by taking time to hear from God. And God is not one to leave us in confusion. He desires our best and speaks clearly to the listening ear that is ready to receive.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:33-34.
“…God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” ~ 1 Corinthians 14:33.
Sixth: be slow to speak.
One thing my missionary friend is working on is listening: listening to what others are saying while visiting with them, but also listening to the Spirit to know how, when and if he is to respond. It is a good practice to have when our desire is to encourage one another in the Lord. Why? Because…
“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well…” ~ James 3:1-3 (I highly recommend that you prayerfully read through James 3-4).
Learning to listen before we speak protects us from temptation to speak foolishly. And keeping self from speaking foolishly avoids a lot of the trials of life. It is a good habit to have at all times, protecting us from running into temptations trap wherever it may be found. Taking time to listen for God and align ourselves with Him gives us time to get our desires under control before we speak up to get something we really don’t need, including protecting us from setting a bad example in our actions and reactions.
Seventh: be slow to anger.
Here we are told to be slow to anger, especially over the words of others. Anger is but one emotion we can give ourselves to that will defeat God’s purpose for us, so I will add here to “be slow” to give yourself to emotional responses. Any emotional response in the leading of our flesh will quickly lead us to sin against God. Endurance, taking time to STOP with faith in God to lead us, getting hold on God’s heart and response to the issue at hand, saves us from giving ourselves over to the lordship of our fleshly emotions.
“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” ~ James 3:13-18.
Beloved, faith-filled endurance perseveres under trial, and it practices these seven steps to successfully walk in victory over difficult times in life, thus enabling us to help others have knowledge of God and His ways. Without faith’s endurance in the midst of trials, our foolish hearts deceive us, our fleshly lusts temp us, and our ungodly emotions to easily rule us. Thus we must remember that we are His workmanship, created for good works, set in the places we find ourselves so we may be His ambassadors, the first fruits of His purpose in creating us; and part of that is to achieve the righteousness of God in the earth, thus bringing glory to His name.