Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James is summing up this section here, and he returns to the idea of perseverance. We should consider trials a blessing, for in coming through trials, we learn to persevere in our faith, to remain firm in all situations and ensure that when the Day comes, we will receive the “crown of life.”
This is indeed a message of hope, giving us, as it does, a whole different perspective on the trials that everyone faces in this life. James goes on to point out that trials do not come because God is tempting us, for God does no such thing, He doesn’t need to; we seem to find our way into temptation quite on our own. Each of us has our own dark little secret place where we hide our desires and evil motivations. They pop up periodically and we follow them, and the result is that we fall into sin, and if we let that sin carry us away with it, death ensues. In this case, “death” is separation from God as opposed to in the physical sense.
So, there is the pattern, there is the cycle; the question is how can we stop it? In James’s words, how can we “persevere” in our faith?
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
We have a pretty good hint in these verses, for as James says “every good and perfect gift is from above.” Where can we look to quash those evil desires that lead us to temptation? Above! We can increase our focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ. God does not trick us, nor does He move the goal posts, for He is reliable, constant and true. He is our source of light, life and truth; He is where we need to look in a time of trial and testing, not this world or our own inner desires. As Paul put it elsewhere, we should set our minds on “that which is above”. That is where our salvation from trials comes from; that is where we will receive the crown of life.