12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
Dear God, taking responsibility is so important. I watched a short video clip of a neuropsychiatrist, Russell Barkley, speaking the other day and he was saying talking about parents as shepherds instead of engineers. Basically, he was saying that we are born with a bunch of character traits that are a mosaic of our family tree. We are not engineered by our parents. We are beings that are shepherded by them. Parents still have a lot of influence. Shepherds have a lot of influence. But to some extent there is only so much that can be done. It’s a liberating concept as a parent, but it’s a troubling concept as a child. In some ways, it gives me one less person to blame for the negative parts of who I am.
To be sure, the environment is a big part of it. A lack of safety or nurturing can really impact the best of people. So this isn’t a free pass for parents to not take any responsibility for their mistakes. I’ve certainly had to come to terms with some of my mistakes and ask my children for forgiveness when I failed. But how my children respond to me, or how I respond to my parents, is largely driven by those personality traits we are born with.
So now James is telling us that you, my Lord, whom David defined as his “shepherd” in Psalm 23, would never put me in a bad situation, but you are there to love and shepherd me through it. It’s my responsibility to heed your voice no matter my circumstances. If I will listen to my shepherd then you will lead me through, one way or another.
Father, help me to hear your still, small voice today. Guide me in your love.
I pray this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,