Summary: Faithful perseverence is the key to surviving our trials.
Runner’s World (8/91) told the story of Beth Anne DeGiantis’s attempt to qualify for the 1992 Olympic Trials marathon. A female runner must complete the 26 mile, 385 yard race in less than two hours, forty-five minutes in order to compete in the Olympic Trials.
Beth started strong but began having trouble around mile 23. She reached the final straightaway at 2:43, with just two minutes left to qualify. Two hundred yards from the finish, she stumbled and fell. Dazed, she stayed down for twenty seconds. The crowd yelled, "Get up!" The clock was ticking--2:44, less than a minute to go.
Beth Anne staggered to her feet and began walking. Five yards short of the finish, with ten seconds to go, she fell again. She began to crawl, the crowd cheering her on, and crossed the finish line on her hands and knees. Her time? Two hours, 44 minutes, 57 seconds.
We are in a constant struggle to run our race. It is a marathon of trials and effort.
12 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. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1.12-15
Look to the long-run – marathon; not sprint
I. Perseverance On Trial (v. 12)
A. Perseverance Brings a Blessed Victory
1. Not Easy – Tribulum
The Roman method of threshing grain has one man stirring up the sheaves while another man rides over it in a crude cart equipped with rollers instead of wheels (sometimes flat boards were used). Sharp stones or bits of iron were attached to the cylinders to help separate the husks from the grain. The cart was called a Tribulum. This is the origin of the word, “tribulation.”
When afflictions come to us, we may think of ourselves as being torn into pieces under cruel pressures of adverse circumstances. Yet, the purpose of the Tribulum was not to tear up the sheaves, but to expose the grain. We are never put under the pressures of a trial needlessly.
2. Crown – Athlete’s award/King’s crown
3. Reward from God
a. He loves to Give – Colossians 3.23-24
23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
b. We Seek Him and he rewards – Hebrews 11.6
B. Perseverance Brings a Blessed Life
1. “Blessed” = Happy/Idyllic life of Greek gods
2. Jesus’ Purpose – John 10.10
3. Eternal Life – Now and Later – 1 John 5.11-12
11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
II. Ambivalence In Trial (13-15)
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
A. Produces Struggles
1. We Are a Walking Civil War
a. Two Natures in Conflict – Romans 7.15
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
b. [Realize Weakness – Sermon “Overcoming Temptations” – Jason Cole
A mother told her son not to go swimming. However, when he came into the house his mother noticed that his hair and bathing suit were wet. "I told you not to go swimming," the boy’s mother scolded. "I couldn’t help it mom," he defended himself. "The water looked so good." "But why did you take your bathing suit with you?" "In case I was tempted."
In the 1980’s it was first lady Nancy Reagan who popularized the slogan "Just say no." Remember that? Though simple and straight forward, that little two letter word can still be a difficult choice to make.
Whether you are on a diet and get in line at all you can eat buffet, or if you are taking a test and are tempted to cheat, or whether you are facing the temptation to sin, it can be difficult to just say “no”.