“No pain, no gain.” That’s a saying many athletes like. They might like the words that James launched into his letter to Jewish followers of Jesus with. Others might cringe.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials (peirasmos), knowing that the testing (dokimion) of your faith produces endurance (hypomone).
Blessed is a man who perseveres (hypomone ) under trial (peirasmos); for once he has been approved (dokimion), he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted (peirasmos), “I am being tempted (peirasmos) by God”; for God cannot be tempted (peirasmos) by evil, and He Himself does not tempt (peirasmos) anyone. (Jas. 1:2-3, 12-13. I added three of the Greek root words for clarity.)
The word for testing (dokimion) may well be related to the crucible (dokimeion) that was used to melt a precious metal to prove its purity. So, in summary, James says that trials and temptations act like exercises that push us to the limit; they strengthen endurance and prove faith. A victorious athlete in James’ day would receive a laurel wreath crown. Those who persevere under stress because their faith is strong are rewarded with the crown of eternal life.1
This is probably one of the biblical principles that everyone nods their head at while, at the same time, avoiding or minimizing trials whenever possible. Yet Bible heroes grew through trials and temptations.
- Take Joseph. Exodus tells us that he resisted the seductive temptations of Potiphar’s wife “day after day” (Gen. 39:7-10). Finally, when she grabbed him in her bedroom, he ran naked, and then did time in jail because she falsely accused him of attacking her. However, God granted Joseph favor before his jailer and Pharaoh, and He anointed him with wisdom and leadership skills.
- Daniel and his friends risked their lives rather than break God’s commands to avoid certain foods, worship other gods, or stop praying. These men became respected wise leaders in the royal court.
- Jesus was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 2:18; 4:15). When the Spirit led Jesus into the desert, Jesus chose not to use His power to provide bread for Himself. He refused to do stunts to impress people and draw a crowd. He would not worship Satan to win His kingdom. The end result: the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus as He left the wilderness.
We should not hunt for trials and temptations but, when they happen, we must be ready to meet them with faith. Faith that God guarantees something far better than what the temptation dangles in our face. God has trained us enough to face the next challenge, drawing on His strength. Our victory in the fight is the proof that our faith has grown.
The goal of Bible Maturity is to promote spiritual growth and faith in God. Please share these short Bible devotions with your friends and family and pray for revival.
- See also Rev. 2:10 [↩]