Endure It Until

How blessed is the man who endures temptation! 
When he has passed the test, 
he will receive the victor's crown of life 
that God has promised 
to those who keep on loving him. James 1:12

What does it look like to "endure temptation?" When we think of temptation, we imagine that we are to run from it and it no longer bothers us. We picture a man glancing at a Playboy magazine on the newsstand and turning away. But this verse seems to imply something else.

In order to endure temptation, there must be a relentless desire to act in a way that does not please God. We don't have to endure something that ends in three minutes. A fleeting temptation to sin does not have to be endured, but rejected. Then it's gone. So what kind of temptations must be endured rather than definitively rejected?

The kinds of temptations described in James 1:12 involve our hearts' desires on the deepest level. You cannot escape your heart. You can close your eyes, you can control your hands, you can decide where your feet go. But you cannot do much about the longings of your heart.

I think this verse was written for people such as those with same-sex attraction. Their heart longs for something which God has forbidden, yet the longings don't go away simply because they want them to. A woman caught in a dead marriage may fall in love with another man, but she is not free to pursue that relationship the way she wants to if she desires to honor God more. She may daily surrender her acts and choices to the lordship of Jesus, but her heart still yearns for connection with a man who meets those needs in a way her husband never did. A man saved from alcoholism may fight the urge to drink for the rest of his earthly life. Every day is a battle with himself as he gives in to God's desire for him rather than the longing of his heart. But it doesn't go away. He must endure it.

Is there a temptation in your heart that you must endure? You see no feasible way to escape it except endurance. You can control your choices and your actions, but your heart may still yearn for something or someone that is forbidden. I think that is the kind of endurance James speaks of. God wants to encourage us that He sees when we endure. He is pleased when we continue to wrestle against our heart's deepest longings without giving in. He promises great reward for all of eternity when we choose to be faithful now.

Stay strong. God does not judge you because of the temptation. He understands and He is cheering for your continued endurance. 


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