July 20 I Friday
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial…”
Temptation is the common lot of every person and an ongoing battle. The NIV says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial…,” but the KJV says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation…” The Greek word used here is peirasmos, which can be translated as either “trial” or “temptation.”
Trials are external issues brought on by difficult circumstances. James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3). Just when we think we have overcome one trial, we are hit by another. We may fear these trials will destroy our trust in God, but from God’s perspective, they give us an opportunity to trust and experience Him in a much deeper way than when life is treating us well. The result of trusting God during trials is that we are made “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). The objective in enduring trials is to strengthen us.
Conversely, the objective of temptation is to weaken us. James writes, “…each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14). A temptation-free life is impossible, but it can be healthy, because it is in the battle we are given opportunity to grow spiritually. To quote C.S. Lewis, “You can live a very sheltered life by giving in to temptation all the time. You never grow any spiritual muscle that way.” That is a sheltered life; give in to temptation and the pressure is off.
The only people who know the full force and power of temptation are those who have resisted it, and in resisting it, realize how powerful it can be. Jesus was the only man who did not yield to temptation and the only one who knew the full extent of its power because He held against it at every turn. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.”
The end result of both trial and temptation is that they either weaken or strengthen us. What we need to recognize is that the very thing that would threaten to destroy us is actually the same thing God will use to build us. Fighting the battles on our own will inevitably exhaust, frustrate and deplete us. But God has given us Jesus Christ and nothing defeats Him. In dependence on Christ alone, we come out stronger, wiser and equipped to persevere through any temptation or trial life throws at us.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, thank You for being at work in me through all the trials and temptations of life. Strengthen me in the battles ahead. In Jesus’s name.