Devotional Day 9
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. No one is to say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death.…”James 1: 12-15
“…and He rested on the seventh day…” (Genesis 2:2)
We had decided ahead of time to take a couple days of rest along the way, and Ponte de Lima seemed a good place to do so, aligning nicely with it being day 7. We could only stay at a municipal albergue for one night, so we found another room for our second night. With no morning rush to leave, we were the last to get up in our dorm and we took our time. We were required to be out of the albergue by 9 am, and our next reservation was not open until 11 am.
So, we stopped by a store to pick up a few items for a breakfast picnic by the river, followed by a cup of coffee at a local café, then arrived at the room just before 11am. The manager graciously allowed us in a bit early. After some time reading and taking a nap, I went to take a shower, but discovered the water ran cold, so I kept it short. Upon contacting the hosts they were able to fix it, so at least Dean got a hot shower. But I did enjoy the quiet, private space we had and thought about James’ words.
“…[God] Himself does not tempt anyone…”
“Test” is not the same as “tempt.” After multiple references to testing and its benefits, helping us see some of the reasons God allows us to go through trials, James also makes a clear distinction from temptation. Temptation can be the provocation of serious consequences. It is linked to our desires, which, when unchecked, can lead to sin. It’s not hard to see this pattern with blatant sins. Adultery is preceded by sexual desire. Envy is preceded by wanting what someone else has, whether possessions, positions in society, or other forms of comfort and significance. Even extremes like intentional murder can be preceded by desire for a person’s absence, suffering, or even death. This desire might be fueled by hatred, racism, or bitterness.
But there are far more subtle sins that all of us struggle with on a regular basis. Whenever we place something at a higher priority than our relationship with God, we are committing the sin of idolatry. How easy it is to slip into letting our lives revolve around career, or success, or family, or earning affirmation from other people, things we desire whether we realize it or not. It isn’t that the time-consuming parts of our lives don’t matter; basic need are essential and relationships are valuable. It is where the motivation to spend that time comes from. Sometimes we need to look at our daily lives and assess our priorities.
Significance or Simplicity
Along El Camino we’ve met people who are attracted by the simplicity of the pilgrimage. There is freedom from all the demands and distractions that are tied up with our desires to meet all the expectations from people and society. They have difficulty finding time and space to slow down without completely detaching themselves from the rushed civilization. In that context it may look unrealistic to set aside an hour each day for a quiet time with God when inundated with basic responsibilities of caring for the family or earning a living, especially for those lacking in a loving, supportive community.
Much of today’s Western culture equates “busy” with significance. You are important if you have more friends to keep in touch with, more work responsibilities, more activities for your children, more high performance and recognition. And what are you promised in return? MORE. Advertisements constantly tell how we desire more and deserve more.
Intimacy Instead of Idolatry
The emphasis on doing more leaks into religion. But it is not about more praying or more church attendance or more impact on the world, it’s about our relationship with God. This is where it comes back to “those who love God.” Any valued relationship does require intentional investment (including time), while also being a source of joy and comfort; giving time is refreshing, not taxing.
Rather than blaming God as the source of temptation, we can seek Him as the center of our outlook. Our world looks different when revolving around Him instead of revolving around us. Maintaining a desire for intimacy with Him will push the superficial, fleshly desires out of the position of influence. Feeling comfortable and being valued by others don’t have to be the motivation for decisions and actions. Instead of sinking into a self-centered, downward pattern of desire, sin, and death, we enter a God-centered journey to find grace, love, and life.
The Rest of a Rest Day
After spending time writing, we went out for an early dinner, but most restaurants don’t open until 7 or 8 pm, so we went back to the taverna we had found the night before. This time they had only seafood (not my preference), so Dean had a piece of cod while we drank a glass of wine. Then we wandered along the river until going to a place with a pilgrim’s menu served at 7, which was tasty and filling.
Later we went back to the river to watch a family of ducks swim by and the sun set colorfully. After a peaceful evening we got an early(ish) bedtime around 10pm. While we didn’t do much site-sightseeing, it was what we needed for relaxation and centering on Jesus. It was also a good rest for the muscles. I’m grateful my leg no longer hurts!
Thank You, Lord, that when we center our hearts and minds on You, the temptations around us lose their potency. Let my true desire be intimacy with you, not physical pleasure or societal respect. Help me keep a sacred space in my life for You, including Sabbaths and daily quiet times. You are my source of joy, refreshment, and purpose!
- Consider what demands the most time and attention in your life. What are the deeper desires that motivate those investments?
- How much priority do you give to your relationship with Jesus? Is it a source of obligation or does it bring you joy and renewal?
- Invite Him to show you ways to grow in intimacy with Him.
Feel free to share your thoughts below!
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