Thursday of Lent I – James 1:12-18

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

In these days it is necessary to remember that there are good people who serve in government. Once, while on a trip abroad as the president of the United States, Harry Truman was greeted by a young woman in his bedroom who had been stationed there with obvious intent. He shooed her out and made clear to his host in no uncertain terms that this was not to happen again. He did not compromise his vow made to Bess.

James tells us that the man who remains steadfast under trial is blessed. We know that the sinner who fails to do so is forgiven and all who have failed the test can take comfort from that. There is another blessing, however, which comes to the man or woman who resists temptation and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, overcomes it. They have participated in the kingdom of heaven right now. Such a person is a recipient of the good and perfect gift which comes from above, from the One who does not change. I believe we have made light of temptation in our generation. The only time I hear temptation in talk outside of church is usually in reference to a plate of donuts. But that is to trivialize temptation. James speaks of the seriousness of temptation. There is something broken inside of us, an unholy desire which the tempter plays upon. The consequences are real, for that desire succumbs to temptation, we sin, and death ensues.

Jesus does not leave us subject to and enslaved in that unholy desire and the sin which it belches forth. He gives a gift from heaven, the Spirit of God, a strength we can rely upon and draw upon, a new heart and life which can win a victory over sin today. It will be good on that last day, when all the sins are forgiven and each of us stands righteous before God. We will look upon the days of our struggle, when His Spirit and each one of us won a little battle in the war against evil, and we will thank God for the gifts we have received. Harry Truman was both sinner and saint. We must be honest about that. Yet, God smiled that day when the young woman was ejected from his rooms. It was a good day.

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