Summary: Real life is promised when we have stood firm in the trials of life.
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.”
It is difficult, some might even think it impossible, to expect that Christians can be steadfast in a world thoroughly schooled in expectations of instant gratification. We Canadians know what we want, and we want it now! We communicate instantaneously with people living on the other side of the world, eat meals prepared minutes, watch cultural events as they happen, and travel at speeds that would have been unimaginable scant years ago. If the pace of modern life were not enough to lead us to expect instance gratification, you need only remember that we live in a culture in which people expect they will never experience sorrow or hardship, and a culture in which each person is schooled to expect to enjoy full satisfaction in every facet of life.
There is no personal responsibility for the happiness anticipated. Government will rescue the negligent of society; modern medicine will deliver us from our own excesses; and our spouses are responsible to make us happy. Actually, modern couples appear to change spouses more frequently than a liberal politician changes his mind. Nevertheless, despite all evidence to the contrary, our contemporaries appear to believe that they are guaranteed life, liberty and happiness.
If you are a Christian, it is certain that you will be called to withstand trials, both physical and spiritual. Trials and trouble come to every life—none are exempt. James writes his letter in great measure to teach Christians how to stand fast in the midst of trial. The Christian life is not, however, all about trouble and trial. God takes note of our testing, and He is pledged to use the adverse winds of trial for our good and for His glory. Then, when the trials are finished, God will demonstrate His pleasure with us through giving us His reward for standing fast throughout the trial. However, James informs us that there is a blessing for having stood fast now.
BLESSING NOW — “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life.” James has been writing to Christians who paid an awful price to follow Yeshua Ha’Mashiach. We have seen that these early Christians were imprisoned because of their faith; they were dispossessed of their goods, turned out of their homes, beaten and threatened, and in some cases, even killed. There is no doubt that they were discouraged, traumatised and that they lived in fear. James wrote to encourage them to stand firm.
Already, in the few short verses we have studied, James has encouraged Christians by warning them that they will be tested because of their Faith. This has never changed, though modern Christians reject the concept of suffering because of their Faith. Nevertheless, James urged those so tested because of their Faith to rejoice in the knowledge that God will not permit them to experience more testing than they can stand.