James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
Did you know that it is a blessing to endure hardship? Wait a minute… the whole world will tell you that’s not true, right? It is a blessing to AVOID hardship, not endure it; everyone knows that. Not according to God.
In James 1.12, many translations say blessed is the man who endures “temptation”. This is more accurately rendered as “trials”. It speaks of suffering, hardship and fighting the tempations to go the way of the world. But there it is, plain as day: Blessed is the man who endures temptation (trials, hardship, etc). What does it mean?
To start with, this is a reality check. Ideally, we would live in a world free of suffering and trials. And one day we will if we have turned to Jesus Christ as our Savior. But for now, our reality is a world full of trials. This is not to imply in any way that life is joyless and devoid of happiness. We are not to walk around all sad-faced and downtrodden because of the reality of a sin-cursed world.
We WILL face hardship. And given that inevitable fact,
God tells us we are blessed when we
endure it with a Godly attitude.
So if you are faced with some troubles today, or you anticipate you might see some hardship one day, then this is for you. Can I see a show of hands? Does this apply to anyone but me?
Why are you blessed when you endure trials? Because when you have been “approved” you will receive the “crown of life”. What does it mean to be approved? The idea here is to “pass a test”. What test? The test of life that proves the genuineness of your salvation. You see, there are many people who claim to be saved but in reality are not (Matt 7.22; Matt 13.37-43).
One of the identifying traits of the truly saved is that they are indwelled with the Holy Spirit, so they have the inner power to endure the suffering of this life. Does that mean the truly saved PERFECTLY endure, or handle hardship? Hardly. But it does mean that consistently, and with growing improvement, the truly saved will respond to the trials of life in a way that brings glory to God. And they will endure without become hopeless or routinely defeated.
That is why when we “endure”, which means that we “finish” or “pass the test”, we receive the Crown of Life. The fact that we endured, testifies to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us, which of course is only true for those who have been authentically saved.
Now let me be very clear about one thing… enduring trials does NOT earn salvation; it testifies to the authenticity of it. Our crown of life was a done deal at the moment of genuine salvation as evidenced by the end of the verse: “which the Lord has promised to those who love Him”. The Lord promised you a crown of life (eternal life in heaven; salvation) the moment you came to “love” Him.
True love for Jesus clearly implies an acceptance and submission to Christ or else it wouldn’t be true love.
Now, is the hardship we endure some sort of fun God is having at our expense? Is the Lord throwing suffering at us to “prove” whether or not we are saved because He really doesn’t know for sure? Of course not! Verse 13 answers that question for us:
James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. (NKJV)
God is not the creator, author or cause of the evil that we endure. He allows it. He even orchestrates it sometimes for our good, or for His glory (Job, Joseph, Moses, Jesus, Paul, etc). But God is not to blame for the trials of this life. We are. We brought sin into His perfect creation (Rom 5.12). We messed things up. Not God.
But God in His mercy and love, sent His only Son so that when we have endured the trials of our own sin-cursed world, we will then receive the crown of life. And live for all eternity in the new creation (Rev 21.1) that will have no sin, no trials, no hardship, no suffering.
What is the cause of these trials? Well, what do you know… the next two versed answer that question:
James 1:14-15 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (NKJV)
Trials come when we follow our own way instead of Gods. We are tempted and enticed by the desires of the flesh, and then the desire is acted on.
Fleshly desires acted on… become sin which leads to death.
The suffering we endure originate in the heart of man. Evil desires become evil acts (sin) which lead to suffering and death. And this reveals to us the key to enduring, which is the main point I want you to remember:
The Holy Spirit living in you gives you the power to
deal with the DESIRE before it becomes an act of sin.
Sometimes we will fail and still sin. Another part of endurance is the constant turning back to God, admitting your sin (confession), being genuinely sorry for it (repentance) and by the power of the Holy Spirit, doing your best to not sin again (sanctification). In the life of the true Christian, there should be a general trend of decreasing sin, and increasing holiness.
Blessed is the man who endures temptation… when you “pass the test” of dealing with the trials and sin that are a part of this life, you will receive the Crown of Life that was promised you when you came to love the Lord.
Lord, There are multitudes of Your children today that feel run down, beaten up and forgotten. Help us to realize that this is because of our sin-cursed world, not You. We declare our hope and trust in You. We rejoice in our salvation, we sing of Your mercies and praise You for taking care of us. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you see God as someone you can be honest with? Do you see the admission of difficult circumstances, disappointments or frustration as a “negative confession”? What do you have faith in? Something about you, or totally in God? Do you complain to God, without acknowledging what the Bible declares to be true about Him? Do you pray to God keeping in mind the conditions that God has revealed concerning answered prayer?
Application: We humans are so prone to extremes and error. We become hopeless and have no faith. Or we try to manipulate our own circumstances with “spiritual formulas” and human effort. It is reality that we suffer at times in our life. That is not a “negative confession”, it’s reality. God is our Father. We can be honest with Him about how we hurt… followed by the proper respect, reverence and acknowledgement of who God is. This helps us to pray for God to act on our behalf, according to His will and pleasure. We trust in God as our hope and salvation no matter what life throws at us.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?