In the past few posts, we’ve been walking through James 1:2-12 and learning how God uses trials to test and grow our faith in order to lead us to greater fruitfulness. First, James taught us that trials test our posture, that is, our faith-response and countenance in the face of suffering. Second, we learned that trials test our prayers; they lead us to a deeper state of God-dependency in which we cry out to Him for wisdom. Third, trials test our priorities; they force us to make decisions concerning what we really are living for, what we are investing our lives in. Do we live for God, or the material world? Are we truly losing our life in order to find it again (Matthew 10:39)? Today, and finally, we learn that trials test the level of our perseverance. In one way, we come full circle from where we began. Trials train us in endurance and, in the end, we persevere and are blessed by God.
TRIALS TEST OUR PERSEVERANCE (v. 12)
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial” means happy is the man who perseveres. The word “man” is used in the general sense (like v. 8), that is, of man or woman. Why is the persevering believer blessed? For “once he has been approved [by God] “he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
- Perseverance is proof of genuine life
Let me clear. Perseverance under trial does not earn us eternal life, but it is proof that our faith is authentic, that we possess the real thing. Jesus taught concerning the end times, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13). Unfortunately, not all who possess Christ will endure to the end. Some will be like the seed that fell on the rocky soil. It sprouted quickly and withered away.
The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. – Matthew 13:20-21
Perseverance in the faith is evidence a person has truly been born again.
- Perseverance and joy are linked together
As we learn to count it all joy when we encounter various trials, one immeasurable blessing is the endurance of faith that results. This is perseverance being fed by joy. However, the opposite is also true. As we learn to persevere in trial, the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with true joy and a love for the Lord that does not diminish, but grows even deeper. As D. Edmond Hiebert writes, “Falling into various trials can be considered ‘pure joy’ only when those trials are effectively endured.”
This is God’s verdict! The man or woman who perseveres under trial and submits to whatever God wants to teach him, or her, through that suffering will in the end profit from it. But the profit will be spiritual, not material. It will be spiritual maturity, Christ-likeness, and growth in love, hope, and grace.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:3-5
What is the reward for perseverance in trials? At the Judgment Seat of Christ, the one who perseveres “will receive the crown of life.” God is the potter; we are the clay. Let us submit to the Master Potter so that He may make us into a beautiful vessel for His use and for His glory.
Previous Posts in this Series