Wednesday, 12 June 2019
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
James now returns to the subject of verse 2. There it said –
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.
Now he says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation.” The word used here, and translated as “temptation,” is the same as that used in verse 2 which said “trials.” In verse 2, James told his reader to view trials as an opportunity to grow in patience. Now, he looks to the reward which comes from rightly using that opportunity. In this, he says that he is “blessed” for enduring temptation. From there, he explains what that means beginning with, “for when he has been approved.”
This is not speaking of the actual time of trial, meaning when it is finished, but of the results of the trial. The individual endures temptation and he is found to have been faithful through it. In this, “he will receive the crown of life.” The Greek actually reads, “the crown of the life.” The only other time the term is used is in Revelation 2:10, and it is also used with the article, meaning “the crown of the life.”
These are references to the true life which lies yet ahead and which is promised to those who are found to be in Christ. The tone of James’ words makes it sound like one must endure to the end, stand approved, and then be given the crown based on the deeds of the life during the trials. In other words, one must personally merit the crown of life. But this is not so. Rather, he continues with the thought that those mentioned will receive the crown of the life “which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
The one who loves Christ is the person who has received Him as the payment for their sins. They are given the gospel, understand its necessity in their lives to make them right before God, and who then have accepted that.
James’ words must be speaking in the broad sense of life’s trials, not anything necessary for being made right with God. Some people face very few trials, some face a lifetime of difficulty. To face life, however, is to face trials. There is only one way to get to the end of them, and that is to get through life. One cannot be approved until the trial is complete. Understanding this, it is what occurs during those trials – meaning receiving Christ – that one will show he “has been approved.” He has loved the Lord and has come to Him for restoration.
Life application: As is often the case with the Bible, and particularly the wisdom literature, what seems contradictory to us from a worldly perspective is what the Bible proclaims as that which is right. In our mortal bodies, we look at trials as something to distance ourselves from, hardships as undesirable, and pain as something to be avoided at all costs. However, the Bible puts these things in a different light and asks us to look beyond the immediate sensation to the purpose behind it.
Job, King David, Solomon, and others were tested in these ways and wrote about what happened. By referring to what they learned, we have a sound and reliable foundation upon which we can study and reflect on our own trials. James received his instruction from these great men through the writings of the Hebrew Scriptures, and he builds upon that foundation to help explain the Christian message in its fullness.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to read your Bible. It has been building up and edifying the faithful believer for thousands of years, and it is a guide and a blueprint for the troubles of our lives.
James asks us to not only endure trials, but to consider them joyfully, even as pure joy. Do you have physical pains? Look at the experience, although painful, with joy. It could be worse than it is. Do you have financial troubles? They could always be worse. Are you facing family problems now? If you endure through them, your relationship may be strengthened at the end.
Whatever trial you are facing, face it with the knowledge that God allowed it into your life for a set time and for a good purpose. In the end, you will see the wisdom of what has occurred.
Lord God – You are sovereign and Your plans and purposes for our lives will come to pass whether we accept them or not. Because of this, help us to live joyfully in pleasure and in pain, in trial and ease, and in lack or abundance. May we understand that the trials have been given us to teach us something beyond the moment. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.