When Trials Reveal the Greatness of Our God
Passage: James 1:12–1:18
Discussion Questions: James 1:12-18
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- In verse 12, James says that the Christian believer who remains steadfast under trials will one day receive the promised “crown of life” (a metaphor for eternal life, pictured as the laurel wreath crown given to victorious athletes in the ancient world). James is not suggesting that we earn our salvation, but rather, he’s saying that our faith in Jesus Christ is proved by our perseverance (the man has “stood the test” in vs. 12, the “testing of your faith” in vs. 3). In light of this teaching, how should the reward of heaven motivate us in the midst of our trials? How does this verse encourage us when we see no immediate benefit or “silver lining” in our suffering?
- In verse 13, the word translated “tempted” (ESV version) is a form of the same word translated “trials” in verses 2 and 12. Therefore, we might translate verse 13 as follows: “Let no one say when he is tested, ‘I am being tempted by God.’” Why is it so easy to blame God in the middle of our trials? What does this verse teach us about the character of God, and how does this encourage us when our trials seem unbearable?
- In verses 13-15, James suggests that our own desires are to blame for our temptations. Our desires “lure” us (like fish caught in a net) and “entice” us (like bait on a trap). Furthermore, desire gives birth to sin, which grows up and gives birth to death. What do these verses teach us about human responsibility? How does this text respond to someone who says, “The Devil made me do it!” or “My genetics made me do it!” or “God made me do it”?
- Whereas God doesn’t give evil temptations, he does give us every “good and perfect gift.” What do verses 17-18 tell us about the unchanging character of God? How should we respond to a God like this in the middle of life’s trials, challenges and difficulties?
- In light of this passage as a whole, share with the group what you have learned in recent years about God’s character as you’ve navigated various trails in your life.
Prayer suggestion: Spend time thanking God for the many “good and perfect gifts” he has showered upon the group in recent days, including our trials of many kinds.