1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.
There is one huge difference between the Japanese and the English here, and that is that where the English says “temptation,” the Japanese says, “trial.” Not being fluent in Greek, I don’t know a reason for that from a strictly linguistic standpoint, but all three of the current Japanese translations render it that way, and English translations are likewise unanimous. It’s not that those two things aren’t related. An old Southern Gospel song starts off, “Tempted and tried, we often may wonder…” However, it seems to me that they aren’t the same thing. God provides a way of escape from temptations, but sometimes we simply have to go through trials. James 1:13 is very clear that God never tempts anyone, but the Bible is full of examples of God allowing trials, and even James, immediately before saying that God never tempts us, 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.” (James 1:12) The problem in the Japanese Bible may be in the emotional baggage attached to the word, tempt, but I can’t be sure. I need to bring this up the next time the local pastors get together! As James points out, temptations are effective because of our fallen nature, which is why running like crazy is sometimes the very best response. That’s what Joseph did in Genesis 39, and he was rewarded for it, but he had to go through a trial in the process. If a particular situation is overly tempting, often we simply need to get out of that situation, even if it means quitting a job or otherwise facing financial loss. We need to be clear that trials are always preferable to irresistible temptation!
I have had temptations, certainly, and I have had trials. My response to each has not always been ideal, but God has always been gracious. As a pastor I need to help people with both trials and temptations, and to know the difference. You aren’t likely to be effective in standing against temptation if you think it’s a trial! Likewise, you aren’t as able to stand up under a trial if you think it’s something from which God is supposed to allow you to escape, as in this verse. I think I need to preach on this in the near future, but the Lord has already made it clear what I’m to speak on this coming Sunday, so I need to listen for His timing. Even this could be called a trial, but not a temptation! I’ve got to remember, and assure others, that God’s grace is always sufficient for us, regardless of the situation. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Father, thank You for this reminder. You show me so many mysteries, even as You have me speaking on this Sunday. May I indeed be a faithful steward of all that You provide, not just physical things but knowledge and wisdom and insight and everything else, so that those around me may be built up and You be glorified. Thank You. Praise God!