BACKGROUND: Trials and temptations
come from the same word in Greek; the context determines the
meaning. Trials come from outside circumstances while
temptations arise from the heart.
James understood that being a Christian is difficult.
Besides having to earn their living, pay taxes, raise
their families, and care for their health, believers must
also reckon with neighbors who think them strange and
antisocial for their beliefs and lifestyles. Many of the
early Christians were driven from their homes and
Pressures in our technological age are too great for
many people. They cannot cope with the difficulties they
meet from day to day. They seek to escape from the
treadmill of trying incidents that confront them. Escape
in many instances is impossible, especially when people
cannot control these incidents.
It is not a matter of “if” Christians face trials and
temptations but a fact of life—“whenever”— in the first or
twenty-first century. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers”
blurts James. Is James out of touch with reality? Does his
elevator go to the top floor? Where does James get this
kind of thinking? From his brother, Jesus:
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you
and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of
me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in
heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets
who were before you (Matthew 5:11-12).
PURPOSE OF TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS: One
of the best tests of Christian maturity is
tribulation. When God’s people go through personal trials
and temptations, they discover what kind of faith they
really possess. Trials and temptations not only reveal our
faith; they also develop our faith and Christian
character. That’s why James, Peter and Paul insist that
our Christian response to all kinds of trials, temptations
or tribulations is “to consider it pure joy” and
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings
[tribulations], because we know that suffering
[tribulations] produces perseverance; perseverance,
character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4).
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a
little while you may have had to suffer grief in all
kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of
greater worth than gold, which perishes
refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in
praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1
James insists that the testing of our faith, develops
our perseverance, brings us to maturity and
completeness, and proper handling of tests bestows wisdom.
Peter holds that all kinds of trials prove faith genuine
and may result in praise, glory and honor; Paul adds
character development, hope.
A sense of hopelessness, despair, panic, or depression
is often the result of a person without genuine faith.
Such doubters tend to view themselves as victims of their
circumstances, rather than participants in the life and
program of God, who can control or overrule our
circumstances for good.
How did all kinds of trials, temptations and
tribulations perfect Job, Abraham, Joseph, and David? Do
you think these men would have agreed with the apostle
And we know that in all things God works for the
good of those who love him, who have been called according
to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
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Asking for Wisdom