“Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
Life is hard for everyone, whether they’re a believer or not. People will always struggle with different desires in different moments and seasons of their lives. The only element that is different for a believer and an unbeliever is where their desires come from. A believer that allows Jesus to help guide their desires will move towards righteousness. But an unbeliever allows their fleshly desires to lead them into wickedness.
James points out that a simple sinful desire that seems small in the moment can lead to death before a person sees it coming. Imagine a small redwood seed dropped into a crack in the foundation of a beautiful billion dollar mansion. In the moment, the seed doesn’t seem to have any effect at all, so it’s ignored. But as time passes, the seed turns into an enormous redwood tree. Now we have a beautiful mansion that is destroyed by an enormous beautiful giant redwood tree. The house and tree are both beautiful, but the tree was planted in the wrong place, which brought destruction. This is exactly what James is talking about. Sin might seem small in the moment, but when it grows it will destroy a person and all that they’ve built up. It may take their very life.
Believers can be encouraged that God gives His people abundant wisdom every time they seek His will. God desires to help His children pursue righteousness no matter what their desires might be in the moment. At moments, we might need forgiveness, which He is faithful to give. At moments, we might need wisdom, which He is faithful to give. Ask God and He will speak.
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:
- Have you ever experienced a seemingly inconsequential sin grow into something destructive in your life?
- What are some ways that you can guard against complacency towards sin and it’s effects in your life?
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you?
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?
Macon Jones, Student and Young Adult Pastor