Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. . . .
Anyone who has tried to give up a bad habit knows how hard it can be to resist its enticements. Just a few days after “quitting,” you’re ready to take up the old habit again. The feeble attempt of trying to quit was little more than a miserable exercise doomed to failure.
There is nothing more difficult than denying our “self.” As James puts it, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” This is because our sinful nature still clings to our “self” and we are powerless to fight it in our own strength. We need God’s help always.
Things and habits we struggle to deny reveal desires that harm the body and stifle the soul. Wherever we are, such desires inevitably surface to foil our best attempts at maturing in the faith.
Testing, writes James, develops perseverance, a dedication to grow and mature in Christian patience and wisdom. And perseverance includes the disappointments of our miserable failures. And when our disappointments reveal a hidden temptation, we can be thankful to God, who “gives [wisdom] generously to all without finding fault.” God is our help and strength—always.
There is great joy in God’s gift of wisdom to discern an unhealthy desire and to work at disciplining yourself, to conform to the mind of Christ.
Have you asked God for wisdom to withstand temptations?
Under the shadow of your wings, Lord, give me the wisdom and strength to persevere in my walk with you. Amen.
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