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Discerning the God-given good from the tempting

January 12, 2023

Daily Scripture

James 1:13-18

13 No one who is tested should say, “God is tempting me!” This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone. 14 Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. 15 Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death.
16 Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. 18 He chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

James, like Jesus (cf. John 9:1-5), taught that God helps us resist temptation, but is not the source of it. Nor is technology the root source of temptation. Scholar N. T. Wright said, “[James] warns us not to imagine that God is responsible for the temptation itself. The testing comes from within (Jesus made that clear, too)…. If you are true to ‘yourself’, you will end up a complete mess.” * Resisting the temptations of technology takes choosing to be part of the “crop” God gave “birth by his true word.”

  • James was unequivocal: “No one who is tested should say, ‘God is tempting me!’” When an event or person strains your faith and tempts you to give up God’s ways, have you ever asked (or heard someone else ask), “Why is God doing this?” Wright said, “James grounds his teaching in what is true about God himself, God the generous giver.” ** What kind of God do you believe in? If there is a God at all, would he call you to a new, better life and then try to tug you away from it?
  • We’d like to think all our inner wishes are pure and noble, but James didn’t flatter humans. Like Jesus (cf. Mark 7:20-23) and Paul (cf. Galatians 5:13-21), James said if our natural impulses run unchecked, the results can be ugly, even ruinous. James wanted his readers to trust “that grace of God which alone can make and keep us clean, and which is available to all.” *** How can you trust God’s grace, rather than your wishes or feelings, during your screen time as in all other times?

Lord God, thank you for the good gifts you pour into my life, into our world. Help me clearly distinguish your good gifts from the hurtful things that try to draw me away from you. Amen.

GPS Insights

 Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell serves as the Worship Experience Director for Resurrection, leading the church’s efforts to provide radical hospitality and an excellent worship experience across all of our locations. She’s a mom to three, g-momma to one sweet little boy, and shares much of her time with her closest companion, a rescued Pit Bull named Lola.

I spend a lot of my non-work time focused on toddler things. My three-year-old grandson, Hezakiah, is my sidekick most of the time. I might be the grown-up and “in charge,” but in reality he is usually the one who dictates most of our activities.

Dictate is a strong word, but if you’ve ever parented a toddler, I think you know what I mean. I might start the day with a solid plan and timeline for what we want to accomplish, but he shakes things up on the regular. My need for order and predictability often gets met with silliness, tantrums, curiosity and a determinedly strong will.

He’s a total church kid, skipping through the halls singing and walking right up on stage in the Sanctuary anytime he gets the chance. He absolutely loves the worship band–BJ Huffman is his idol. Daily he puts his little-dude guitar on and comes to show me. “Look, I BJ…” as he strums the guitar, stomps one foot and begins to hum. Melts my heart every single time.

This past Sunday, Kiah be-bopped into the church with his parent headed to Foundry worship. He had on a Be Campaign t-shirt, a cute homemade sweater his Aunt Deb knitted and his new Christmas boots. He looked sharp and, as usual, walked around like he owned the place. Kiah has special people he simply must see when he comes to church on Sunday, so after we watched BJ lead music in the Foundry, we headed to the usher room in Building A so he could see “his Mindy.”

He skipped down the connector hallway between building A and B, waved at people and said, “Good Nonrning!” All that skipping and bopping around left him with some seriously untied boots as we entered the Usher room to see his peeps.

Our Head Usher, a seasoned boy-dad with two grown sons, saw the boot laces flying and offered to tie them. We set Kiah up on the counter in the Usher Room and Rick proceeded to double-tie the shiny new toddler boots that seemed to have extra long laces. Directly next to Kiah was a large Tupperware full of homemade banana chocolate chip mini muffins Rick’s wife sent for our volunteers. (Side note–looking to volunteer and like delicious baked goods? Let me introduce you to the Usher team…) Hezakiah was perfectly comfortable on the counter getting his boots tied and as he looked to his side, quickly picked up a muffin.

Watching him grab the muffin, I expected he’d have it in his mouth in 2 seconds flat. I had visions of him grabbing handfuls of muffins, making a big mess, and ending up with a tummy ache. The temptation seemed too much with probably at least 20 mini muffins right there for him to enjoy.

To all our surprise, he didn’t stuff the muffin in his mouth. Instead, he started offering muffins to other people as quickly as I thought he might gobble one. He didn’t try to eat a muffin himself until he’d given several away to others. I felt bad that my first reaction was to assume he’d give into temptation like I might have done.

While none of us are perfect at resisting temptation, my sweet grandson reminded me that just because temptation is (quite literally) at hand doesn’t mean it must be indulged. My children have always been my best teachers, and my grandson is dosing out wisdom in the same fashion. I pray that I can see the world more clearly, just as his little eyes do, and not get distracted by temptations but instead look for more ways to bring joy to others.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Wright, N. T., Early Christian Letters for Everyone (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 8). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.

** Wright, N. T., Early Christian Letters for Everyone (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 9). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.

*** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters of James and Peter (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 53.