By  Pastor Todd Holman   St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2,3 NASB)

Let no one say when they are tempted, “I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He himself does not tempt anyone. (James 1:13 NASB)

One of the most challenging things we are called to do daily is examine ourselves. If we desire to change or grow in a positive and healthy way we must develop a sense of self reflection. James reminds us of no better way to grow than through reflecting on the various trials that we encounter through testing. However, in sharp contrast is the idea of temptation. As James opens in chapter one he demonstrates the difference of understanding temptation and testing. Ironically while both are not Godly, they systemically are the products of trials we face.

John, who struggles with making the right decisions in his life, finds himself in trouble with the law on a routine basis. He’s not a bad young man, but he does hang around people who lead him into the wrong things. A friend asks him to stash a bag of marijuana for him. John gets caught with it and is facing serious charges only to find his friend denies ever being part of it. The day comes when John’s eyes and heart are open to Christ. As John attempts to make sense of his past with his new-found faith, he claims that God led him into all the things that brought trouble in his life, so that he would find faith in Christ. This is unfortunately how many people tend to deal with bad decisions. It crescendos into a refusal to take responsibility for the things we often do. James reminds us, God can not be tempted, and does not tempt anyone.

God is not to blame for the negative things that happen to us. God is the solution. Granted, life may be a struggle, and extremely difficult at times, and yet the everlasting promise is that God is always there watching over us and guiding us. When we claim faith in God through Christ, testing will come in life. It is the choices that define who and what we are living for when we make them. I pray that you all take time to reflect and examine yourself, so that you may find a righteous and prosperous life being guided and led through the hope of love and peace in Christ.