Summary: 7th in a sermon series on James dealing with the blessing that God promises to those who endure.
“The Blessing of Endurance”
Today we move on in our journey thought James. James wrote to bring clarity to the life of faith. Many assert they live by faith. Many claim they trust God but their response to various circumstances in life demonstrates otherwise. James serves as a spiritual mirror that honestly evaluates how a person who claims to live their life by trust in Jesus should be responding to life. James began with the thing that continually tests our faith – trials.
James called them “various trials” that we “encounter” in a broken world. So far, we have explored four instructions regarding life’s trials.
I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-18
A. Consider it all Joy knowing trials produce endurance.
B. Continue enduring knowing endurance produces maturity
C. Confidently ask God for wisdom knowing He will give it.
James expanded on a specific trial commonly encountered by his readers. For most everyone, material wealth can be a test of genuine faith. It is a test for those who have it and those who don’t. Both need to maintain an eternal perspective on material wealth.
D. Focus on your spiritual riches. (Instruction #4)
The poor are to glory in the exalted position of spiritual wealth. The rich are to glory in the humility necessary to possess spiritual wealth. The insight connected to his admonition to rich had to do with the possession of temporal riches without eternal relationship. The rich man without eternal relationship must realize that not only is his wealth temporal but so is he. Regarding material wealth…Don’t desire it or depend on it.
Regarding spiritual wealth i.e. relationship with Jesus… Desire it above all. Depend on it always.
In the middle of his discussion of genuine faith’s response under testing, James included an insight that serves as an incentive to endurance. The key faith response to testing seems to be joyful endurance.
E. God rewards endurance 1:12
Blessed is a man who endures trial; for having been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
Earlier, James urged them to continue enduring because it produces spiritual maturity and stability. In this verse, James urged endurance because God rewards endurance. Here is the gist of the passage.
God rewards (blesses) the one who endures testing or trials.
God promises the crown of life to those who pass the test (get approved).
This promise applies to all those who love God.
James provided incentive to endure by looking to the reward for passing the test. The key words in this verse are “blessed” “endure” and “approved”. Blessing or reward comes to the approved who endure trial. God rewards the approved with the “crown of life”.
“Blessed” is the word “to become large or long.” It references the extension of God’s favor and benefits.
Some translated it happy. The meaning goes way beyond a feeling of happiness generated by positive external circumstances.
Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, listed some actions generating blessing.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3-12
God blesses the one who endures trial. He is blessed “because” he receives a reward for passing the test.
The term translated “approved” is not complicated. In Bible times, it referred to the testing of a coin to prove it genuine. Today we “test” paper money to prove it is not counterfeit. The educational system tests to determine proficiency in a subject and rewards passing a test with a grade, certificate or degree. The state administers State Board Exams to determine proficiency and provides a certificate of “approval” upon successful completion of the test. It was also used to indicate the process by which metal is purified / refined.
God allows tests to determine the genuineness of our faith. Are we really living by faith? Does our response to trials demonstrate genuine trust in God? James’ whole letter offers numerous tests to determine true trust in God.
The criteria for “approval” and for the blessing of reward is endurance of the trial. God blesses the one who endures the trial. Some questions need to be considered concerning this passage. Is this endurance of individual trials or endurance to the end? Is this “crown of life” a present reward or eternal reward? Commentators advocate both views.