Verse of the Day Devotion: James 1:12
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12
This verse speaks of those who endure what comes upon them while remaining true to God. The Greek word for trial is “πειρασμός”, pronounced “peirasmos” which has a dual meaning of test or temptation. And this word is used in both ways here in James 1. First, we read “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,” James 1:2. The idea here is that we should rejoice when we experience persecution that tests our faith. This does not speak of temptation, for Jesus told His disciples to pray that they would not be tempted. “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41. Why would James say to rejoice in temptation when Jesus said to pray we do not enter it? Regarding our focus verse, this one refers to overall trials, both testing and temptation. “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12. We know this refers to temptation as well because of the next verse which speaks of temptation. “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” James 1:13.
The format of our focus verse is of a beatitude. We see a list of them that Jesus taught about in Matthew 5:3-11, and now James uses this same idea, declaring blessings to those who persevere under trial, not giving in to it. We all go through difficult times, and I have become assured, based on what has been happening in our world today, that we will see more as the days progress. So, this begs the question. How can enduring difficult time be a blessing? There are two ways this can be.
The first is what will help us presently. “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:3-4. The more we endure, the stronger we will become. I remember my last year in the Air Force, a friend invited me to run with him every other night. I agreed, without knowing that he was running 3.7 miles each time. And this was constant running, no run, walk, run. This was run, run, run. The first time was brutal, I thought it would never end. But with each run, it became much easier as I became stronger and was able to endure through to the end. The same can be said regarding enduring persecution and temptation. The more we face these trials, with God in us, the easier it becomes.
The second regards our future. “for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12b. This refers to the day of His return. If we remain true to the end, we shall receive the great and blessed promise of God. Paul, writing to his disciple Timothy writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8. The first part of this is an analogy of the crown reserved for the winners in the Grecian games. There was a crown reserved for the winner of these Olympic games. Paul takes this farther in his letter to the Church in Corinth. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the game’s exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 9:25.
I want to encourage us all to be strong and endure any trials, both persecutions and temptations, with all the strength we can muster, and to grow stronger each day. We have an amazing eternal future ahead of us if we persevere to the end. Trials will come, some stronger than others. But remember, we always have God with us to help. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13. And this covers both, the temptation to sin, and the trials that push us to walk away from God.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.