Trials and Temptations

  • Nov. 10, 2014
  • #8486

What's the difference between a trial and a temptation? The book of James gives us insight on how to respond to both.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a short little Bible study.

I think it’s always wonderful when we can take these few minutes to delve deeper into God's Word for some fresh insight, and the verse I’d like to talk about is James chapter 1, verses 12-13.  It will probably be familiar to you, but I just bet you still have some questions about it, so let me read it.  James chapter 1 says:

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.'  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone." (James 1:12-13)

I know you’ve read that verse – probably many times.  But let’s pick it apart for a moment.  Because in one breath, James is talking about trials and tests; but in the next, he’s referring to them as temptations.  So which is it?  Well, trials and temptations may sound like one and the same, but they are not.  A trial is a test that God puts before us to prove our faith and produce perseverance. Trials are something we can face with joy.  For instance, just the other day, my wheelchair power stick broke off at the handle and suddenly, I couldn’t move.  I had lost my ability to move my wheelchair, so there I sat, stuck.  I breathed a quick word of thanks for this inconvenience (I mean for me, a quadriplegic, not being able to move my wheelchair is pretty inconvenient), and then I called for my husband Ken.  He was outside and did not hear me and so it meant having to wait about 30 minutes.  In that time, I sat patiently, prayed a bit, and sang a few hymns.  When Ken finally came inside, he was able to fix it with crazy glue.  For me, it was a test; it was a trial.  And thankfully, God got the glory through my patient response. 

But now, let’s take a look at temptation.  Temptations occur when we are enticed and dragged away by our own evil desire.  So how are trials and temptations related?  Well, when we fail a God-given trial, when we resist the grace He gives to persevere and obey, we miss the God-given opportunity to have our faith refined. At that point, a failed trial can turn into a temptation when we are enticed to go our own way, seek our own desires, or even grumble or complain.  That’s what could have happened when the joy stick on my wheelchair broke.  I could have gotten irritated, frustrated, and upset that I was wasting time just sitting there.  I could have felt sorry for myself that I was unable to move, but I decided not to give in to that temptation.  Instead I thanked God, prayed, sang, read, and waited on the Lord and my husband.

Now, some would say, "That still means that God is tempting you.”  But James chapter 1, verse 16 says, "Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights."  Friend, God never intends for trials to turn into temptations. Trials are His good and perfect gifts intended to refine our faith, develop perseverance, and make us mature and complete.  We can't really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under a trial. And James 1:12 encourages us, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life."  Hey, visit my radio page today at and ask for the free booklet I wrote about being thankful in all things -- just like I was thankful in my wheelchair when my joy stick broke.  This booklet will help you in keeping trials from becoming temptations.  And that today is your lesson from God’s Word.

© Joni and Friends


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