“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2, emphasis added).
I admit that this verse doesn’t make much sense to me, especially in the midst of temptation. I have experienced a ton of temptation in my life and I don’t think joy has ever entered my mind as part of the experience.
This verse has always been a marvel to me, so much so that I have a big, bold exclamation point drawn next to it in the margin of my Bible. Joy? All joy? In the second verse in the whole epistle? But maybe the joy part is the result of what is said in the following verses:
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3, 4).
Temptation is a means of trying my faith and Peter says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). My faith is precious to God and temptation is a way to try my faith and purify it through testing.
And then there is patience, which is absolutely necessary to achieving lasting sobriety and recovery. Recovery is a long process that requires patience in the “progressive victory over lust.” It takes patience to uncover and deal with our character defects and the root causes of our addiction. It takes patience to make amends and repair broken relationships.
Being patient in the midst of temptations and trials leads to being “perfect and entire, wanting nothing”; this means mature, whole, and content. All things that make for a joyful life.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
We addicts need wisdom! We need God’s wisdom from His word and good Bible preaching. We need the wisdom of the people that are further along in their sobriety and recovery. We need the wisdom of an honest and empathetic sponsor and the group as a whole. In the context of the entire passage, we need wisdom to consistently overcome temptation.
Faith, patience, maturity, contentment, and wisdom: all good fruits of resisting temptation. All things that give us joy.
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