Waiting for the crown of life.

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.
(Jas 1:12) ESV

James began his letter  by telling us to rejoice when we meet various trials. He talks about the trials producing steadfastness,  gives some advice about obtaining wisdom, and gives counsel to the rich and the poor. Even that counsel to the rich and the poor is within the overall theme of standing fast in trials because each economic status brings its own sets of trials.

The question is often asked: Does verse twelve  belong with the section above or the section below? I honestly think that it applies to  both. James uses this statement as a transition from trials/temptations in general to a specific type of temptation, one that entices to sin.  Some versions pick up on the slight difference by using “trial” in verse 3 but use “temptation” in verse 12. The ESV uses “trial” in both verse 3 and 12.

Temptations (direct enticements to sin) are definitely discussed in verse 13 but not all trials (temptations-NKJV) are direct enticements to sin. The death of a loved one, the need to find a different discipline for the youngest child who responds differently than the first two (thus the need to pray for wisdom),or  some financial set back can test us and may lead us toward sin but throwing our faith away is not the most likely response.  Of course, if enough of those trials are heaped on top of us, we may choose to buckle but Job did not buckle under his trials and, as far as I know, they were not direct enticements to sin, with the exception of his wife’s advice to “curse God and die.”

In either case, James ties our reward in Heaven (the crown of life) to standing fast. The only way to be able to say that one has stood fast in this context is to die faithful in the Lord. In other words, it is the summation of a Christian’s whole life not a few victories and  then a sliding away. This is a similar to Revelation 2:10 “be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life”. The idea then is that  trials will be present throughout our life, but this should not disturb us.

Verse twelve also reminds us who this reward is for. He says that the crown of life is promised for those who love God. Much is made of the fact that God loves us. John 3:16 is a well known and comforting verse. However, to be loved by someone does not mean you love them in return. The greatest commandment is that we love God with our whole being, so it stands to reason that this promised crown of life is to those who love him in return. How do you know you love him? In this context, when you have stood fast through your whole life, your love is shown.

As we go through and grow through these trials, our hope is set on Christ and that crown of life that awaits us. Our steadfastness in trials and temptations will allow us to say with Paul:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
(2Ti 4:7-8)

About Steven Sarff

If I were to offer any one piece of advice to one wishing to serve God, it would be to put Hebrews 11:6 and Acts 17:11 into action and let God guide you to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ.

Posted on November 23, 2011, in Christianity, Comments on James, crown of life, Faith, James, temptations and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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