James 1:2 (KJV)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Wait a minute – did I read that right? Joy in tribulation? James, how can you say such a thing? I mean, after all, I dread temptation. When they come, the worst in me usually comes out. I start to fear and worry and I usually get sad, wondering if God will get mad at me. I feel guilty and unforgiven. I would always prefer that temptations would stay as far away as possible. And you want me to count temptation as joy?
That is the way I felt about this verse for years at the beginning of my walk with Christ. I could not understand how temptation could equate to joy, even after I read the next two verses. But then I started to learn two important things – joy and God’s mercy. Getting the right perspective on these two things changed my view of this verse.
The joy of the Lord should never be based on my circumstances. Never. It is deep down inside of me and it is always there. What I had not learned yet is how to call upon it when I am in a position that would cause most people to lose their joy. That is simple – just start to praise the Lord! Yup, that’s right! Praising the Lord is huge in getting us into the joy of the Lord. Why? Because it takes my mind off the problem and puts it where it truly belongs – on the one who can solve the problem! That gives me joy!
Then there is God’s mercy. I forgot about how forgiving He is. When I am being tempted, I forget about His sacrifice because I am too worried about me. That is pride, plain and simple. I should never fear that God will not forgive me, or be mad at me, or give up on me, because He won’t (Rom 8:31-40). Just because temptations come does not change His thoughts about me – I am precious to Him (Psalm 139:17, 149:4), and I always will be. I am His child, and He is my Father.
A closer look at this verse makes me pause at the words “fall into”. Temptation is always beneath us. After all, you can not fall into something that is higher than you – it;s physically impossible. The word fall here has the connotation of not just falling, but falling into the middle of something. It’s almost like one minute we are just walking along fine, then then the next the ground has give way and we find ourselves in the midst of a den of snakes. YIKES! Isn’t that how temptations are? One minute we are fine, the next they are overwhelming. We have “Fallen into”them.
Why is that important? Because this means that it is not our normal path. Somehow, the temptation has snared us and taken us off the normal path, and we are in it. That means all we have to do is find our way back to the normal path, and everything will be OK.
To find my way back to the normal path, I suggest there are two things we need. Yes, only two. The first is directions. How do I get out of here? This place I have fallen into seems impossible to get out of. What do I need to do to escape? We have probably all seen it in the movies. Someone falls into a big hole and in trying to get out the sides keep giving way, or they can’t get a solid enough grip to help themselves up. They must get help from someone else – someone who knows all about the hole they have fallen into.
Secondly, I must have a light. it can get dark when we have fallen into something. Darkness is not a good place to be, even if you are not afraid of the dark.
God constantly surprises me. I started writing this blog Saturday night and got to this point and stopped. I really hadn’t planned on going into the “fall” information that I’m sharing now but it just struck me as interesting. Little did I know what God had in store for me Sunday morning.