James 1:2—Is it desirable to avoid trials and temptation?

Problem: Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, “do not lead us into temptation” (Matt. 6:13). But James says here, “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”

Solution: The two situations are different, as indicated by several factors. First, James is speaking of trials we “fall into,” and Jesus is referring to things we should not want to be “led into.” Second, James is speaking of trials, and Jesus is speaking about temptations. It is not a sin to fall into trials, but sin does result from being led into temptations. Finally, while the believer should not masochistically seek trials, neither should he try to avoid them at all cost. God can work in and through them to perfect our lives (cf. Job 23:10; Heb. 12:11; James 1:3–4). (See comments on Matt. 6:13.)

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.