Trials, Temptations and Our Efforts to Defend God

God doesn't need us to defend him.

We roll our eyes at Peter as he swings his sword in the Garden of Gethsemanae, trying to defend Jesus.  But I find myself almost daily swinging my words like swords in an attempt to defend God. 

"God isn't like that"
"God didn't make that happen"
"God doesn't hate them"
"Those people don't speak for God"

Just this week, in our community group, we swung our word-swords attempting to defend God, splitting linguistic hairs to defend God's innocence.

"God give trials, but not temptations" we said, as we studied James.

But even as Jesus didn't need Peter to swing his sword in the Garden, God doesn't need me to swing my word-sword.  In fact, the biblical text makes it difficult to do this. 

While it would be clean and neat to attribute "trials" to God and "temptations" to the Devil (or our sin nature), the Bible doesn't feel the need to do it.  The same word - πειρασμον - shows up meaning both "trial" and "temptation."  And this makes it more difficult for us to get him off the hook when someone says "God is tempting me."

God's response to "God is tempting me" isn't to jump into a linguistic defense ("I'm testing you, not tempting you") but to show us the source of our temptations and to draw our attention to his generosity (see James 1). 

He defends himself well, though differently than we would defend him ourselves: not with word-swords or sword-swords, but with something else, with a cross and an empty grave and overwhelming generosity and patience ... unusual defenses, to say the least.

How have you seen God's defense of himself differ from your defense of him?

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