There is a difference between tempting and testing. The “temptations” of our text refers to a test. The word in Greek is dokimion, which means “proving”, as in a test drive. God never tempts (see James 1.13). Years ago my seminary professor, Dr. Graham, put the difference to his class; he said that an easy way to remember the difference between a tempting and a testing is:
a temptation is from Satan, and it is designed to make you fall;
a test is from God, and is designed to make you stand tall!
So, when you have a difficult time before you, pay close attention which direction you’re being driven. If away from God and His kingdom, then it is designed to make you fall – it’s a temptation!
If the difficult time creates a desire to find God’s will and way –
Ø to compel you to prayer, and
Ø fellowship with believers for comfort, and
Ø Bible study for answers –
Well, that’s a test. God is doing something! THAT’S why you can count it all joy!
To become mature requires developing a patient spirit. One lady told about how driving seventeen hours to the beach for a week's vacation took its toll on [her family], especially four-year-old Katie. Strapped in her child seat for hours at a time, she expressed the tedium [they] all felt when [the family] finally exited for our motel. She plaintively asked, "Can I please be excused?"
It is hard to accept the difficult times, but becoming mature in the faith demands those times. The Message New Testament translates verse 4 this way:
So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.
Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
We may kick and groan about difficulties in our lives, but often that is what God is using in His perfect way to change us into His useable servant.
A ship was wrecked, and the only survivor washed up on a small uninhabited island. He was exhausted. He cried out to God to save him. Every day he scanned the horizon, searching for help. Finally, he managed to build a rough hut and put his few articles in that hut.
One day, coming home from hunting for food, he was stung with grief to see his little hut in flames and a cloud of smoke. The worst had happened. But early the next day, a ship drew in and rescued him.
He asked the crew, "How did you know I was here?"
They replied, "We saw your smoke signal."
For You, Today…