Verse: James 1:13-15
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
I’ve noticed something about myself. I wonder if you’ve noticed the same about yourself? I tend to blame shift (it’s probably my parents’ fault…;) ). When I do something sinful, I try to explain it. (Or am I trying to excuse it? It’s always hard for me to tell the difference!) “I was tired.” “I was in a bad mood.” “I’m stressed.” “I didn’t mean it.” “I’m down.” “Someone was a jerk to me.”
James tells us here that the real culprit is (ready for this?) US. I know, I know. Hard to believe. How could he say that? Doesn’t he know what a hard day I’ve been having?
He says when we sin, it is because of our desires. In other words, I sin because I want to. I know that sounds harsh. But maybe it will actually help me to call it what it is. When I lash out in anger at one of my family members, it’s not because I’m stressed, tired, or whatever. I did it because I wanted to! I was upset that they did (or didn’t do) x, y, or z…and so I wanted to be angry with them.
When I didn’t let that person in front of me while driving, or I left the dishes undone knowing Mandy would do them, or showed up late to work—it wasn’t because I was running late, or feeling tired. It was because I wanted to be selfish!
When I wasn’t generous with that person in my church, it wasn’t because I’m stressed about money. It was because I wanted to hold onto my money.
I could go on. Could you?
What James is going to put his finger on during this whole book is our “disordered desires (or affections).” He is inviting us to order our desires according to the Way of Jesus. You see, he was never looking for us to just manage our “outcomes,” he has always been looking for a deep “heart work.” Because of his great love for us, he is looking to not just change our actions, but to transform our hearts.
He teaches us that death from sin starts with a disordered desire. If we can learn to own our disordered desires, we can start to bring them to Jesus, and allow him to heal our hearts, transform our desires, and change us from the inside out. So it’s actually important for us to not make excuses. It is vital that we become self aware, even if it hurts for the moment. Just trying to change our actions is like a bandaid on a gaping wound. Can we invite the healer, the surgeon, Jesus, to dig into the disordered desires of our lives and help bring truth, clarity, and wholeness? Remember, wholeness is the goal. He wants to order our affections and desires according to his Way – the Way of Life – “the law of freedom” – so we can know true wholeness. Then when faced with tempting situations, it will be so much easier to walk in his way, because our desires will already be pointed in the right direction.
God, I invite you to show me my disordered desires, and bring order and wholeness to my desires. I know this isn’t an overnight work, so I ask that you wouldn’t let me off the hook. Keep working in my heart. Transform me according to your Word. Bring me wholeness from the inside out.
Author: Christian Dunn