Jesus Creed

JesusJames*.jpgAsk any pastor who knows suffering and persecution first hand and he or she will tell you that what James turns to in James 1:13-15 is the rugged, pastoral, moral reality:

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

The temptation for many who endure trial, persecution, and suffering is to question the goodness, providence, and love of God. James, with a sleight of hand, shifts the meaning somewhere from “test” to “tempt.”

The temptation is to accuse God of using the test to tempt humans. Paul appeals to God’s enabling grace to say that God will not test us beyond our ability to persevere (1 Cor 10:13). James turns to another kind of logic: it’s about God, James says.

God is the sort of Being who is neither temptable (provoked to such by accusing humans), like the Greek gods, nor does God “tempt” anyone.

Here’s my question: Is the situation that provokes this accusation — that God is tempting me — one that is labeled “test” by the enduring one and “tempt” by the failing one? In other words, is the same situation described in two ways, depending on the outcome for the person?

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