Scripture does not promise the faithful that their lives will be free from difficulty. Instead, it affirms that trials and struggles are inescapable. Jesus, for example, plainly told His apostles, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Echoing the point, the apostle Paul warned Timothy, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Elsewhere, Peter attempted to help his readers anticipate and keep their trials in perspective by writing, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:12-13). Although, we do not live in an environment exactly like that of the first century, persecution still occurs. A science teacher who refuses to present evolution as a fact could lose her job. A business owner who openly professes to be a Christian might find his faith attacked on social media and his company boycotted. An employee who chooses to attend Sunday worship rather than work extra hours might be passed over for a promotion. Even churches that insist on teaching what Scripture says about moral issues like homosexuality open themselves to criticism and expensive legal challenges. The question is not whether we will face trials and difficulties because of our faith, but how we will handle persecution when it comes. Besides the external challenges Christians endure, we also struggle with internal trials, particularly with temptation. Often, we blame others for our weaknesses of failures (Genesis 3:12) because it is easier to deny personal responsibility than to acknowledge that we are accountable. In this, we are hardly different from those who lived in the first century. Nevertheless, Scripture consistently holds man responsible for his actions and declares that God seeks to help man escape from sin rather than entrap him in                 (1 Corinthians 10:13). James wrote to equip his audience to face both their external trials of persecution and their internal struggles with temptation. He pointed out that facing could actually help them develop patience; therefore, he admonished them to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials”. Importantly, he recognized some would not know how to handle the trials they faced, so he exhorted, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him”. (V.5). James also observed that the temptations individuals face, which can seem especially strong in the midst of external persecutions, result from individual weaknesses, not from God (vv. 13-14). He showed that rather than attacking us and placing us in peril, God has made provisions so we might overcome the trial of temptation and “be a kind of first fruits of His creatures’ (v. 18).

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