Jesus taught 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.”
ESV - 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.
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I would say that Jesus and James were talking about two different things. In my opinion, trials are not the same as temptations. Trials are external hardships (such as persecution) that come upon a person because of his or her faith. James is saying that such hardships are a testament to the genuineness of that person's faith, and should therefore be a source of joy to the individual. Christians can seek to avoid such trials, but not if doing so would require them to act in a manner inconsistent with their faith. Temptations are allurements or enticements that arise from a person's internal response to influences in his or her environment that would involve the person acting in a manner that the person knows to be wrong or sinful. Jesus is telling his followers to pray to be spared from exposure to such influences. However, when temptations arise, Christians are to resist allowing them to draw them away from their faith by giving in to them.
Trials and temptations are common to all people everywhere. In God’s eyes they can serve the same purpose, if we remain faithful and allow God to complete his work of refining our faith, so we become mature and complete. James has a lot to say about both trials and temptations. James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:12-15 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord 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; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Temptation is not sin. Temptation can lead us into sin, if we don’t resist and stand firm. The apostle Paul exhorts us so: 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. When Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer, I believe the petition “Lead us not into temptation” (based on the whole counsel of scripture), would be translated better as: “Don’t allow our temptations to lead us into sin.” God is faithful, he will always provide a way out so that we don’t fall into sin. God is also good, so when we succumb to temptations, God will use the trials caused by the consequences of our sins, to mould and shape our character into the image of Christ. Our part in all this is to remain faithful and keep surrendering to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Don't overthink this; no one wants to have a flat tire on a cold night in an Arizona desert, and no spare tire in the trunk of the car! Trust me! (I was around twenty years old, but I remember that night like it was last night; why would anyone attempt to drive from Los Angeles to Atlanta without a spare tire? Did I mention I was twenty years old? Translation: young AND dumb! We're not being told to wish for such testing; we're being told to not panic. We're being told to keep believing that God is with us every step of the way. (I didn't know the truth of that at the time, but I have a catalog of such events to which I now often refer. I remember God's deliverance). When we lose faith we open our hearts to contaminants: fear, anger, complaining and the like. These all weaken a believer's resources, which are listed as spiritual armor in Ephesians 6. No sane, healthy minded person wants to suffer! Let's be real about that! Jesus said in his prayer outline of Matthew 6, "Lead us not into temptation..." James isn't contradicting him by saying "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials..." (James 1:2) They aren't even talking about the same thing. Jesus was saying to ask God to help us to avoid giving in to sinful desires by shielding us from the evil one (Satan). We're to pray for help before the next attack by (here it is) the tempter. James is talking about how we are to react to the testing of our faithful resolve when we're on the side of a dark lonely road on a cold night, with our family in the car. He's reminding believers that God hasn't left us. He's saying that testing of that kind when it's brought to completion, (after it's over and done) will result in a stronger and more potent faith in God. If we keep his teaching in mind it'll help us to better endure the next test. "Count it all joy" is christian speak for, 'Don't panic, it ain't as bad as you think; God is up to something good.'
In Strong's Concordance peirasmos means “an experiment, a trial, temptation.” The original word is πειρασμός, οῦ, ὁ The Englishman's Concordance has Matthew 6:13 GRK: ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι NAS: And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver Peirasmos is used “of a condition of things, or a mental state, by which we are enticed to sin, or to a lapse from faith and holiness: in the phrases εἰσφέρειν τινα εἰς πειρασμόν, Matthew 6:13. But peirasmos is also used of “adversity, affliction, trouble (compare our trial), sent by God and serving to test or prove one's faith, holiness, character (James 1:2). The first situation (Jas 1:2) can’t be helped: we all fall into trials. But the second situation in Mt 6:13 can be avoided—don’t allow yourself to be led into temptation, and pray that you won’t.
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