The Crown of Life
Last week we looked at an important verse that will lead us by instruction to Christian maturity. That should be a top goal in the life of any Christian. Now here in James 1:2-4, we can know for sure from the Spirit of truth that these trials which we should look at with joy, though they may not be joyful, for pain is pain, disappointment is disappointment, and tragedy is tragedy, but these trials test our faith to produce endurance, and that the result of enduring through these trials may make us perfect, complete, lacking in nothing, in other words, spiritually mature. And with the result of what the Lord desires for us in the long haul, that because of the outcome He desires them to have, we can look upon them with joy, though they may not be joyful, few ever seem to be. We have a God we can trust, knowing that He is sovereign, in control of everything, He is for us, never against us in anything, and nothing can separate from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
In verse 12 of James 1, we see our endurance, our perseverance, our perpetual continuance will come to an approval, a maturity, in which we will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. It is a promise to those who love Him, the prerequisite of the promise similar to Romans 8:28, that all things work together for good to those who love God, another precious promise only for the child of God. There will be many tests along the way, Jesus tells us to count the cost (Luke 14), to know we will have to carry our own cross, or we can not be His disciples. And our crosses get pretty heavy, don't they? But remember, we have another Helper that is always with us, God Himself in the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. There is nothing too difficult for Him.
So what is the crown of life? Often in these contexts in the Scriptures, a crown is referred to as a reward. In Rev.2:10, we see the same phrase, Jesus says, "to be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." Again, in 1Peter 5:4, "when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory." The reward of the crown of life could be deduced to the resurrected life, as John 5:28-29 talks about. It is everlasting life with the One who is altogether, lovely, the One who is altogether beautiful, the One that is altogether wonderful! We will see what the great apostle John saw in Rev.7:9, "He looked and saw a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes."
We have One that will get us there. For now another Helper is with us, One who will be with us until the end of the age. He is our always all-sufficient God. Psalm 18 1-2 shows us how all-sufficient He is, "I love you Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Nine different expressions of sufficiency to enjoy. English Puritan Thomas Brooks says, "A man who has God for his portion may truly say in His greatest distresses and troubles, well though I have no riches to fly to, nor any friends to shelter me, nor any relations to stand by me, nor any visible power on earth to protect me, yet I have God for my portion, Who is always willing to supply me, and always able to secure me." Truly, how blessed it is to persevere under trial!
Elder Randy Slak