JAMES 1:12: “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.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: How does the Lord measure greatness in our lives? Does He measure it by our accomplishments? What did Jesus have to say about this?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)
According to the words of Jesus, accomplishments are not the measure of greatness in our lives. This verse in James 11:2 reinforces the overall teaching of Scripture, and the overall Biblical understanding of faith – greatness is measured by faithfulness! Faithfulness is proven in the valley of adversity. It is easy to be faithful when everything is going according to plan, according to our desires. However, when we have to walk through difficulty, this is where our faithfulness is truly tested. So once again, James writes:
“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.”
The entire first chapter is given to this theme. He opens this letter to the 12 Tribes of the dispersion with these words:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 ESV)
It is this call to persevere through the trials of life that tempers our faith, that produces steadfastness, that produces spiritual maturity. It is to this end that we are to ask for God’s wisdom in faith, to stay on the pathway of faithfulness. This is the reason we are to be slow to speak, quick to hear, and slow to anger. We cannot hear the voice of the Lord in the midst of our trial when we are doubting, complaining, or angry.
We need to have open ears and “hear” the Word of God. However, hearing we need to obey. To know the next step and then to not take it is foolishness. It is not the “hearers” of the Word that remain steadfast under trial, it is the ”doers” of the Word that are sustained, guided, and blessed in their doing! As we walk through the valley of trial we can have full confidence in God’s good intentions for our lives, for every good and perfect gift comes from Him. We will receive the wisdom to avoid the temptation of the enemy, and we will be drawn with sincere compassion toward those who are in need. This is the hallmark of faithfulness. This is why those who are faithful will receive the crown of life!
Lord, forgive me for my constant penchant to view faith in terms of accomplishments rather than in terms of faithfulness. Give me a heart that remains steadfast in trials, that seeks Your wisdom above all else, that is not just a “hearer” of the Word, but a “doer”. As I walk through the valleys and mountains of life, may my heart always be directed toward other’s needs above my own. Create in me the heart and mind of Christ Jesus I pray.
In Jesus Name!