Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved. Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In today’s first reading, James points out quite helpfully the common human tendency to think of temptations and hardships in our life as being sent from God. This is where Discernment of Spirits and the naming of the “evil spirit” are particularly helpful. Since James’ time we’ve come to recognize the “evil spirit” isn’t just the devil, but rather includes psychological baggage, emotional weakness, trauma from past experiences, and really anything we let pull us away from God’s plan and from faith, hope, and love.
Thank God there’s a counter pull! James points out that “every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above” from the “Father of lights.” Not only does good come from above, but he also willed to “give us birth by the word of truth.” When we add the gift of the Holy Spirit, remember with 3 against 1 odds, there’s no reason to lose hope!
Father of lights, we praise you and bless you and thank you for all your gifts from above. Help us to recognize you in all that we have and all that we do. May we maintain hope in you, despite the difficulties in our lives. Grant us peace in our hearts.
—The Jesuit Prayer team