I just started studying the book of James this weekend, and after working my way through most of the first chapter with my trusty Vine's and Strong's resources, I've learned a little something about testing vs. tempting. I am excited about what I've learned so I'm sharing it here with you:
God tests us. Satan tempts us. There is a distinct difference between the two. Temptation indicates the desire of the temptor to see the temptee fail, or give in. If I call up a girl friend and tempt her with a night of fattening food and a chick flick with no redeeming value, I'm expecting her to give in. I WANT her to give in. I want her to lower her standards just this once to suit my desire for a "girls night". The devil wants us to give into temptation, to suit his desire and plan. He wants us to fail. He tempts us for the purpose of weakening our resolve and ruining our witness. The book of James, chapter one, verses 13-14 tell us that God does not tempt anyone, not ever. The Bible does, however, say that God tests us. Hmmm. how is this different? What I've learned from my study of chapter one so far is that when those first few verses say that we should "consider it all joy whenever we face trials" - that word "trials" is like "clinical trials," where a researcher is expecting a certain outcome and he does an experiment just to prove what he already suspects to be true. When God tests us - he expects us to pass! Just like a teacher who prepares her class for a midterm, He makes sure that we have everything we need to succeed and ace the test. We can consider it joy when we face a trial because we know that it is a test that God feels we can pass. Furthermore - just like in college, some courses have prerequisites. We can be assured that if we are facing a trial or test, it means that when we come through it on the other side and our faith is proven genuine, we are now eligible to go even deeper with God - to take the "next course" that we previously weren't ready for!! That is cause for JOY! I want to take all of the upper division courses with God that He will allow me to take!! I want to go as deep as He will let me go. If He has to give me a few tests along the way to prove my progress, so be it!! I have a feeling the tests are for my benefit anyway - He knows I can pass, He just wants ME to know that I can pass.
Learning this has brought me SO MUCH COMFORT. I hope it does the same for you!
This week I have been challenged and stretched more severely than I have in years. There have been moments of joy and triumph and moments of tears and confusion. It has been a wild ride, and I admire my husband for buckling up and sticking with me for the ups and downs of it all. Have you ever been told by two different people, within 5 minutes of each other, conflicting, no not just conflicting, OPPOSITE reports and advice about the exact same issue? Well, I suppose if you have more than one child that is an every day occurence... =o), but I'm talking about reports and advice from rational, God-fearing adults with the same goal in mind. I found myself in that position on more than one occasion this week, and it has forced me to stop asking what the people around me think and to cry out to God for His perfect perception. Hmmm, "forced?" Perhaps that is why I am in this predicament in the first place. Did I need to be FORCED into seeking God in this matter because I wasn't seeking him in other matters? Has pride crept into my life in such a way that I believe my own intellect and experience are sufficient for making tough decisions. Ouch. I think I've struck a nerve.
I'm so glad that God loves me enough to allow me to be in the middle of a situation that FORCES me to cry out to him. A situation where I am in over my head and have no idea what to do. A place where the stakes are high and success is critical. If I wasn't seeking him wholeheartedly in the smaller, more routine areas of my life - PRAISE HIM that he cares enough for me to allow strife into my world to bring me right back to his side, and remind me where my true peace and joy and comfort come from.
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!