Today’s reflection is written by Joe Duea.
“Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” —James 1:12
It’s important to point out here that these words were written by James the brother of Jesus! Not a mere witness, or a friend, or even a disciple, but Jesus’ BROTHER. He probably has a pretty good insight into what Jesus taught us! Even though he didn’t agree with his brother at first, James became one of the key leaders in the new Church. Here James is teaching on persevering through trials.
This verse starts with good advice (not unusual from James): “Blessed is anyone who endures temptation…” In other places in the Bible there are pictures of what it means to be blessed. Jeremiah 17:7 says “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord.” Of course, there are all the “Blessed are…” statements in the Sermon on the Mount. But here in this passage James is discussing wisdom and interspersed are these references to having the resolve to face tests and trials. So then does wisdom come from perseverance?
James goes on to say in this passage that not just wisdom, but every good and perfect gift comes from God. As it says in later in verse 18, we were all born into God’s truth. At the end of this verse, James writes, “…and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” So, we’ve been born in God’s truth and may receive the crown of life, because God promised it to us. We need only to trust in God alone.
But—what about that middle part? “Such a one has stood the test…” (my emphasis added). OK, here is where it gets hard for me, in the “test,” or the trials, or the temptations. I am a believer and a follower of Jesus, but I must remind myself of that every day, because I so often give in to temptation and that pulls me away from God. Too often I get distracted from my responsibilities by my phone, or have that extra snack even though I need to lose weight, or start work and skip daily Bible study, or have an extra glass of wine at night to relax. Also, my thoughts get pulled away from what is right, and my mind is pulled to the worldly things that Satan uses to tempt us. I slip like we all do. I need to learn to trust in God alone and ask God’s help to persevere through the trials, to endure the temptations. I know that it’s not me persevering; it’s only through trusting God that I can do that. In every situation I need to call on Jesus to help me to remember God’s promise—the crown of life “promised to those who love him.” That crown of life is living an eternal life with God, not receiving glory and honor here on earth.
Lord, help to me to stiffen my resolve to face the tests and trials, and teach me to trust in you alone. In every temptation help me to remember your promise to all of us.