Word Study – Trials

Grasping God’s Word – Assignment 9-4

2              Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

3              knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

4              And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

(James 1:2-4 (NAS), compare Romans 5:3-5)

The Greek word for trials in this context is πειρασμοις transliterated: Peirasmos

Strong’s number: 3986

It is used 21 times in the New Testament:

  • Temptation (12 times): Matthew 6:13, 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 4:13, 8:13, 11:4, 22:40, 22:46; 1 Cor. 10:13 (twice); 1 Tim. 6:9; 2 Peter 2:9.
  • Trials (4 times): Luke 22:28; Acts 20:19; James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6.
  • Trial (3 times): Gal. 4:14; Hebrews 3:8; James 1:12.
  • Testing (twice): 1 Peter 4:12; Rev. 3:10.

From the contexts in other passages it would appear that this word is definitely more closely translated “temptation” than “trials”.  If we use temptation instead of trials in James 1:2 we have:

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various temptations”

We know that we are to pray that we do not enter temptation (Matt. 26:41) and we are to ask our heavenly Father not to lead us into temptation (the Lord’s prayer – Matt. 6:13).  However if temptation still comes then we should consider it a joy to encounter it, knowing that our Father has not allowed us to be tempted above what we are able for (1 Cor. 10:13).  We also know that it will produce endurance and a perfect result if we continue to be faithful to God through the temptation (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5).

The nature of temptation is, of course, to be very enticing, seductive, tempting even.  What tempts me would not tempt someone else and what tempts someone else would not tempt me.  But whatever it is that tempts you, there is great reward in staying faithful through the period of temptation, of not giving into it.  Sometimes I feel ashamed at what tempts me, especially in the light of God’s mercies to me, the many blessings I enjoy because I do not yield and the disastrous consequences for those closest to me if I did.  Probably everyone is tempted by something that could, if yielded to, be very destructive – probably one of the seven deadly sins as they are called: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

There are other temptations that are more subtle and rather than destroy our lives all at once, they wear them down slowly when yielded to.  These include any temptation to not put the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first (Matt. 6:33).  For example we can be tempted to think that spending dedicated time with God in private one to one relationship is less important than doing something else, e.g. spending time with family, work or just watching TV. Or we can be tempted to put other family activities before family worship, bible study and prayer.  This kind of temptation can be hard to consistently resist.

However the principle in all these cases is the same:

  • Resist temptation,
  • endure in resisting it (some temptations go on all your life)
  • look forward to the results of resisting temptation:
    • proven character,
    • the love of God poured out in your heart (Romans 5:5).

As the Lord said to Abraham: “I am your exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1).  Being close to Jesus is the greatest reward for staying faithful under (what can feel like) overwhelming, very attractive temptation.

Is a constant and closer relationship with Jesus the “perfect result” of enduring under trials that James is referring to?

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