James has been talking about trials, telling us to take joy in the fact that our trials are making us stronger. As our strength increases, we become more steadfast.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)
To be steadfast means to be firm, resolute, unchanging, and immovable – like a tree that remains fixed in place, even when enduring the strongest of winds. A trial is a test that shows the strength of our faith in God. When troubles come, do they uproot us from our faith, causing us to doubt God, and even to question if He really loves us? Or do we remain steadfast in our belief that “God’s got this,” and He will work everything out for our own good?
James says that the believer who remains steadfast will receive “the crown of life.” He is not referring to eternal life, because we are saved by trusting Jesus as our Saviour – not by enduring trials. There are many crowns mentioned in Scripture, and they usually refer to rewards.
Everyone has trials. Trials can make us better, or they can make us bitter. People who allow their trials to build their character will be rewarded by God in various ways. People who just whine and complain about their problems will miss out on a reward.
Some trials come because we make poor choices and get ourselves into trouble, but in this passage, I believe James is talking about the trials that God allows to help us grow. When these problems arise, we can respond with various attitudes. We can respond with defiance and say, “I am going to fix this myself!” We can respond with fatalism, losing heart and giving up. We can grumble and complain, being mad at the world. We can resort to self-pity. We can seek sympathy, wanting everyone to feel sorry for us. Or, we can learn from our trials and grow in our faith.
We have completed the first twelve verses of James, which focus on trials. In verse 13 he will shift the discussion to a related topic – temptation. To summarize this opening section, I will offer the following words of encouragement…
Don’t be a victim! Don’t blame other people for your problems. Even if someone has hurt you, you are not the only one who has ever been hurt. You can’t control what other people do, but you can control how you react. Ask God to teach you something from your problems, to build your character. Ask Him for wisdom to handle the trial. Don’t let your problems make you bitter. Let them make you better.
Today’s Good News is that you can have joy in your trials as they strengthen your faith, and draw you closer to Jesus.
Now, go share the Good News…
FAITH in ACTION!
If you are joining us part way through this Journey in James, you can access the devotionals you missed in the archives. (The series started on June 1.)
If this is your first visit to this website, please read the “Featured Post” from March 1, 2018.