12 Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward.
13 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. 14 Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. 15 Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death.
We need courage to endure. Every day we face challenges greater than the ones we encountered yesterday. We are often grow tired of making the difficult choices and are tempted to take the path of least resistance. It’s hard to stand for our principles when people around us make it clear that we’ll pay a price if we don’t go along. It’s hard to stand for righteousness when everyone else just shrugs their shoulders and says, “what can you do?” It’s hard to have empathy for those everyone around you ignores.
But passages like this remind us that life does not consist in running from pain or hardship. It’s true that we often give in to all kinds of temptations to avoid or suppress our pain: just to make sure we don’t have to feel what we feel. We numb, we ignore, we avoid.
James reminds us that it takes courage to choose life. It’s easy to choose death – to allow our hearts to grow colder little by little through the choices we make everyday. But those who follow Jesus must choose another path, even when it’s difficult. This is how we receive the promise of God – life and life eternal.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Life consists of much more than avoiding pain. Sometimes choosing life means choosing the more difficult path. When have you been rewarded for taking the hard road rather than the easy road? How would your life be different if you had chosen the easier way?
Prayer: God, we so often are tempted to just give in, to go along in order to make things easier on ourselves. Remind us in those moments that there is right and wrong – a path that leads us closer to you and a path that leads us further from you. Help us to choose wisely between the two. Amen.