Never Lose Sight of God’s Goodness in Your Trials.
- Jas 1:12-18
And then finally, the fourth point I wanna make from our text is that in the midst of your trials, never lose sight of the goodness of God. And this is such an important point because Satan will tempt you to doubt the goodness of God when you’re enduring a trial. This is what he did in the garden with Eve when she was tempted by the fruit and Satan said oh well God doesn’t really have your best interest. He’s keeping something from you. It’s what happened when Job was tried and again the devil, Satan assumed that when Job was so afflicted he would curse God and deny the goodness of God. And Job, by God’s grace, endured. But most of us are tempted this way when horrible trouble comes. And sometimes we are touched in the part of our lives that seems the most vulnerable. Our families, for example. And like the woman with the daughter who’s pregnant, how could God allow me to suffer so much? But again, James says, I’ll continue in verse 12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial. Once he is approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted I am being tempted by God for God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. And when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin. And when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will, He brought us forth by the Word of truth so we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.”
So James says when you’re tempted, don’t say I’m being tempted by God. Don’t blame God. Now you can understand since we believe that God controls all things. Say well God allowed this into my life. That would be tempting to blame God. But what James has already told us is that God is not enticing you to evil. God is not pushing you towards wrong. God is doing good in your trial. He’s not trying to ruin you. He’s seeking and working to build you up. And you can’t blame God and say well God made me an angry person or God made me a lustful person or God has given me more than I can bear. No, God has promised He will never give you more than you can bear, 1 Corinthians 10:13. He will, with that temptation, give you a way of escape. He will help you. So God, as he says, God cannot be tempted by evil. He doesn’t entice people to evil.
It’s our own sinful desires that tempt us. If we do fall into sin it’s because of our own inward nature. We talked about this in Mark 7. That out of the heart that sin comes. Instead, God is good. And that’s what James gets to in verse 17. He says, verse 16, “do not be deceived. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above.” That God is good. And this is so important. In the midst of our trials, we need a right view of God and especially the goodness of God. Again, I can have compassion, we should have compassion. I can understand how a person who is severely afflicted, be it the physical pain of cancer, the sorrow of financial loss and losing a house that’s been in the family for 20 or 30 years or losing a loved one to bereavement or a wayward child or a wayward spouse. And I can understand how the question can be raised in one’s heart how could God allow this to happen? And that’s what we need in the midst of our trials to be reminded God is good. Don’t be deceived. Don’t be like Eve in the garden when the serpent portrayed God as a stingy God, an unjust, unfair and harsh God, but rather to remember our God is a good and a giving God. He is perfect in His own goodness. His attribute is to be good. He made the world good. There is no variety in Him. We’re the ones who there’s variation and shifting shadows. We’re the ones who are unstable. God is unchanging. He is the same every day. We’re the ones who sometimes give in to temptation. We’re the ones who fall short in many ways.
And God in His goodness, not only is He good in His nature, we need to remind ourselves of that, but God gives good gifts. He’s the source of every good gift. Every thing, the beauty of creation. The food in its abundance that we eat. And I think it’s important in the midst of a trial to remember not only that God is good in His nature. This is a good assignment for a counselee. Tell me how God has been good to you. Let’s go through your life and all the years of your life and all the goodness of God you have experienced. That in the past and even in the present God is good to everything and everyone, even to His enemies. He gives wonderfully and wonderful good gifts. And you have experienced those. And take your eyes off of this trial and remember the goodness of God. Remember in the past when you’ve had other trials and you were tempted to be overwhelmed by these trials that even then God in his goodness brought you through those trials, recall that. Acknowledge His goodness and of course the very best gift is in verse 18 where it says “in the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth.” That He has given us a new birth and through Jesus Christ, the great gift from God, who has come down from heaven to give us life and salvation. God has given you that. And as the author, as Paul argues in Romans 8 that if God gave you His own Son, and delivered Him up for you, will He not also with Him, give you all things? And so when you’re overwhelmed, you feel overwhelmed and you’re tempted to question the goodness of God. Remember His good gifts and give Him thanks. It’s a change of perspective. And especially even the gift of your salvation that when you were dead He brought you forth by means of His Word that now you have life and you’re adopted into His family. And give thanks. And even give thanks that this trial is in some way a manifestation of His goodness. And one day, you will be able to look back and give thanks for that as well.
- Ps 119:67,71
So in summary, you will face trials but take heart. God has a good purpose in your trials. He’s not trying to destroy you. He’s strengthening you. He’s proving and strengthening your faith that you might be mature. Seek wisdom from God in the midst of your trials. And then don’t forget the goodness of God. We can be thankful because our God is a sovereign God. As the Psalmist says, it was good for me that I was afflicted that I might learn Your ways. And our afflictions are good that we can draw closer to God. They sometimes pry our fingers off of the world a bit. We can be comforted our sovereign God, as we’ve already referenced in 1 Corinthians 10:13 will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able. And that He will not waste our suffering. That He has a good purpose in it. Paul Tripp says that God will take you where you hadn’t intended to go to produce in you what you could have never achieved on your own. And it’s God who preserves you in trial. You’re kept by His power, Peter says. God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation. And then finally, here James points us to Christ. Even though Jesus is fully God. In His human nature, He was tried, tested, and perfected. And He suffered. He suffered the greatest possible trial which was bearing our sin, dying in our place, and yet He did that for the joy set before Him of gaining us. He will never call upon you to suffer as much for Him as He has already suffered for you. Furthermore, as Hebrews also tells us, that it’s comforting to know that when we do suffer that He sympathizes with us. We have a high priest who can sympathize with us in our weakness and we can draw with confidence to the throne of grace. And so, we can turn to Him knowing that He is working in us to make us like Himself with also the hope that one day we will be like Him. That’s the goal. Our goal is to be like Him. We should see our trials not as God’s unfaithfulness to us or His lack of love for us but rather our trials exhibit His love and His transforming grace as we walk in the steps of our Savior.