Summary: God has given us every good and perfect gift...everything we could ever have need of to endure...to face trials and temptations...and to come through to victory...maturity...and one day to receive the crown of life.
A LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES
JAMES 1:12 18
READ James 1:12 18
James brings us back to the beginning of things again, reminding us of our basic position...that we move forward through trials and tests to maturity. And he goes back to the same truth as an introduction to a new perspective on things. He writes of a means of blessing.
Now, the word blessed contains two strands of meaning. It means happy, in a fairly general sense.. I get blessed when I hear the choir sing my favorite song...it makes me "happy"... But the word blessed also means to have "a sense of fulfillment" and this is what James speaks of.
And in most cases where this word blessed is used in the New Testament, it clearly indicates that God is the One who gives the blessing. James is saying that persistence through trials will bring personal fulfillment and enrichment.
He highlights the fact that God is at work in all this business of trial and persistent endurance...and His work is that of bringing about a blessing while at the same time He's guiding us towards the ultimate blessing...His total approval of our lives.
This brings in a whole new range of motivations on the call to endure. First he tells us to endure so we can become mature...to be all that we can be for Christ but now he expands that to say that we endure to please the One who holds the crown of Life...and to live in a way that will gain His approval.
But the blessing is not found in the trial itself...but it's something we find as we patiently go through the trial. That tells me that if I am so caught up in the difficulty...if I'm so focused on the problem, I may miss the hand of God working in my life during the trial...and in effect miss the blessing He has for me.
But what are these blessings? They are summed up in the gift of the crown of life. In the Bible, the wearing of the crown speaks of the dignity of a high position. It speaks of gladness and rejoicing (Song of Songs 3:11). It is something given to the victor..the prize at the end of the race. And in Revelation 2:10 is the reward of faithful endurance.
But what brings the reward is not just simple endurance. I remember one time having a toothache...one of them that makes your whole head throb. And I had to wait for a day and a half until my dentist returned from vacation...and I endured.
But during that whole time I wasn't fit to be around. I hated everyone and everything even my dog. I cursed that dentist for having the nerve to go on vacation when my tooth needed pulled...I wanted everyone else I came in contact with to be as miserable as I was. But I endured.
I think its obvious that there's more involved here than just making it through. James is saying that it is our love for God that prompts us to joyfully endure whatever trials came your way. Our progress to receiving this crown is not gained by our powers of endurance...but by the depth and reality of our love for God.
Between verses 12 & 13 James makes another quick change of direction. In v. 12 he pronounces a blessing on the one who bears up under trials. But in v.13 it no longer refers to the outside circumstances that come upon us...but to the inner enticement to sin...what we call temptation.
We all know many people who stopped walking with God when some trouble or tragedy hit. And what happened was simply that the call to endure...to keep on serving God...to go on to maturity...all that was abandoned in favor of the suggestion to give up. Every trial we face is also a temptation...we're tempted to give up or maybe to give in.
James has been teaching us that trials are blessings because they lead us toward maturity and the crown of life...but only if our response is correct and we make proper use of these circumstances.
So every trial, every trouble, every circumstance we face requires a decision... "Do we go on with God, do we persevere...or do we listen to the voice that suggests the easier way of disobedience and disloyalty? This is a perfect picture of that illustration of a little angel on one shoulder and the little devil on the other.
And we must ask the question, "Where does that voice come from?" James finds it necessary to address, and I think it's important for us to get a clear understanding of this...because this is a frequent occurrence those conflicting "voices" telling us how to respond to temptation or trial.
Now, it's a fact that God uses our circumstances for His purposes...but suppose that in the midst of a severe difficulty I just give up trying...I give in to that tempting voice that says, "What's the use...you might as well just give up...or give in" Can't we then say that it was really God's fault that we quit because He's the one who brought such a temptation to us.