My readings today were from the book of James, which I have a particular fondness for. One part of it struck me again and would not leave the forefront of my mind. It is a familiar passage, but one that bears mentioning. James 1:13-17. I want to begin with what “John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes” has to say on these verses.
But let no man who is tempted – To sin. Say, I am tempted of God – God thus tempteth no man.
Every man is tempted, when – In the beginning of the temptation. He is drawn away – Drawn out of God, his strong refuge. By his own desire – We are therefore to look for the cause of every sin, in, not out of ourselves. Even the injections of the devil cannot hurt before we make them our own. And every one has desires arising from his own constitution, tempers, habits, and way of life. And enticed – In the progress of the temptation, catching at the bait: so the original word signifies.
Then desire having conceived – By our own will joining therewith. Bringeth forth actual sin – It doth not follow that the desire itself is not sin. He that begets a man is himself a man. And sin being perfected – Grown up to maturity, which it quickly does. Bringeth forth death – Sin is born big with death.
Do not err – It is a grievous error to ascribe the evil and not the good which we receive to God.
No evil, but every good gift – Whatever tends to holiness. And every perfect gift – Whatever tends to glory. Descendeth from the Father of lights – The appellation of Father is here used with peculiar propriety. It follows, “he begat us.” He is the Father of all light, material or spiritual, in the kingdom of grace and of glory. With whom is no variableness – No change in his understanding. Or shadow of turning – in his will. He infallibly discerns all good and evil; and invariably loves one, and hates the other. There is, in both the Greek words, a metaphor taken from the stars, particularly proper where the Father of lights is mentioned. Both are applicable to any celestial body, which has a daily vicissitude of day and night, and sometimes longer days, sometimes longer nights. In God is nothing of this kind. He is mere light. If there Is any such vicissitude, it is in ourselves, not in him.”
Wesley’s explanation is good I believe even if the language is a bit dated. I was to talk about the application of this however. The whole of scripture must be taken together. In that spirit, I want to talk about how this practically fits in with our lives and how we choose to live them. We are, upon salvation, called to be Christ like. That means that we are called to live a life as He did…we are called to be a good and perfect gift. We are called not to evil, but to holiness. Called to be a gift that tends to glory. In our bickering, how are we a good and perfect gift? In our insulting of each other, how are we being a good and perfect gift? How often is it that we are confusing our lusts- the lust to be right, to be liked, to be heard, to be famous or rich or etc etc etc…and then claim it as from God? To often I suspect.
We are to be Christ like. Christ came into the world not to condemn it, but to save it. That should be our mission as well. That does not mean that we ignore or condone sin, but rather we seek to show people a better way. Saying something is a sin is not condemnation. Jesus stood not only as a voice for those that did not have one, but took action as well. He didn’t just talk about feeding the hungry, He did it as well. We, like Jesus need to be sure that our words are balanced by our deeds. Talking about it is not enough, we must take action as well. We can not just hear the word, we must live the word. Jesus prayer was “Thy will be done”. Ours needs to be as well. Christ stands alone as the only pure example of a good and perfect gift from above and He is the example we are to follow. My hope and prayer for all of us will now include that we become closer each day to being a good and perfect gift in a badly flawed world. I hope yours will as well.