James 1:13-14: “Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”
Why is it that whenever we read the Bible we tend to look at how it affects us personally? Don’t lie, love your neighbor, or in this case, stop letting your flesh win. These are all common takeaways whenever I read my Bible. They may seem like good takeaways, and I actually believe that they are, but when that’s all I take away from my daily bible reading, I have to stop and ask myself if I’m missing something. Because the Bible is about God, not me. So when I only get “rules” in my Bible reading, I have to ask myself how God’s character is displayed in the passage I read. James 1:13-14 is a great example. At first, it seemed like a couple of verses on temptation, but there is actually a deeper message about God’s greatness.
These verses say that, A: God isn’t tempted, and B: we are tempted by our own desires. What does that have to do with God’s character? A lot.
The character of God is displayed magnificently in these two verses. Verse thirteen starts by explaining that God cannot be tempted. Normally, I’m so busy reading for myself that I brush right over that. It seems like a given, but I’m starting to learn to stop reading my Bible for its practical applications in my life. Instead, I’m trying (and more often than not, failing) to search God’s Word for parts of His character. Do you want to know what I found? I realized that when it said that God cannot be tempted, it means that He is not drawn away by sinful desires. What are sinful desires? They are any desire or longing that takes us away from God’s perfect plan.
James is saying that God is unchanging. He can’t be tempted, or drawn away from his plans. And if temptation is the rejection of God’s good plans, doesn’t that mean that God’s desires are only good? And if only good, isn’t He a wonderful God to serve? He is only good, he is unchanging, and we can depend on Him! That is why it isn’t wrong for God to be focused on Himself and His glory. Only a God who is fully good, all knowing, and supreme could look out for His interests without being wrong. These verses says that God isn’t prideful in loving himself, but is all the greater for doing so! Just think, if the greatest being didn’t love the greatest being, he would no longer be the greatest, right? If he didn’t, then he wouldn’t be able to recognize what is good. That would bring God down to our state, because we in our sinfulness can’t always realize what is truly good. So God is unchanging, and he glorifies himself. Our Father is amazing! In him alone is “no variation or shadow of turning,” as it says in James 1:17. And yet He loves us! It’s in His plan to love us! And He glorifies himself as he loves us because his love for us testifies of His goodness! That just makes me treasure Him more and more.
Do you see what I would have missed if I had just read my Bible to read my Bible? When we don’t aim to learn more about God, we might just be missing out on some of the greatest truths. And unless you know something, you can’t rejoice in it. In the end, God is good. He wants us to glorify Him. And the better we get to know Him, the better we can do so.