No one who is tested should say, “God is tempting me!” This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone. Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death.
Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. He chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created.
Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness. Therefore, with humility, set aside all moral filth and the growth of wickedness, and welcome the word planted deep inside you—the very word that is able to save you.
What kind of seeds are being planted in your heart?
The language James uses here is interesting: it falls somewhere between agricultural and sexual. Mixed metaphors for sure, but all tending in the same direction. There’s a lot of talk about conception, and birth, and seeds and growth and crops ready for the harvest. These metaphors point to two main ideas.
First, there’s temptation. Temptation, when conceived, gives birth to sin and grows up to death. That one’s clear enough. We are tempted by what we see, hear and feel in the world around us – and when these things bump up against our own desires, sin isn’t far behind. One-off sins become habits, habits undermine character, and the resulting loss of integrity harms relationships. The result, James says, is a very real kind of death, even while we’re living!
But there’s a gift God has to give us, James says, a perfect gift with the power to save. Christ has planted in us a good seed, a true word, that has the power to displace our errant desires and grow us in new, more faithful directions. When we allow this seed to take root, we grow in holiness, in integrity, and our ability to relate to others in healthy ways. This is the life that God wants for us, the one that endures to eternity!
For Pondering & Prayer
The idea of a “word planted in us” is a good reminder of the importance of memorizing bits of scripture. Is there a scripture verse that has helped you through difficult times? (Hint, hint: maybe today’s your day to find one!)
The health of any relationship is in direct proportion to the integrity of those in the relationship. How are you doing with the various dimensions of integrity (truthfulness, consistency, etc.)?