My grandkids love to play The Ground is Lava whenever we’re at a playground. By sheer little-kid strength, they carry themselves over the length and width of the apparatus, climbing and scurrying to stay aloft. Determined to stand the test, they’d rather fall from the monkey bars than come into contact with the ground.
And it dawns on me that this is how God wants me to handle temptation in my life.
Jesus’s little brother James supports me in this conclusion, and it’s interesting to me that the Greek word for temptation is identical to the word for trial, and this is reflected in the multiple translations available to readers:
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.James 1:12 (NKJV)
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.James 1:12 (ESV)
Whatever comes to your mind as you’re reading this verse–the temptation that has hung around so long it’s begun to feel like a game of Whack a Mole or the trial that you’re sick and tired of praying about–know that there is a reward coming for those who endure. Nowhere does Jesus promise a trouble-free life, but he does promise a crown of life, the ultimate reward for perseverance.
Whatever form this crown eventually takes, it will be awarded when we see Jesus, and it’s a sign of his “well done.” Unfortunately for us as impatient souls in the 21st century, the crown of life is NOT like the old Imperial margarine commercials where a crown appeared with a trumpet fanfare on the head of a surprised diner. Sometimes you will endure for what seems like a very long time, but eternal life is much longer.
Unfortunately for impatient 21st-century souls, the crowns Jesus promises are not like the old Imperial margarine commercials where crowns appear immediately with a trumpet fanfare. Sometimes we endure for a very long time.Tweet
What’s Really Being Tested?
James is very specific about who will receive the crown of life, and it comes as a surprise, given his opening words. The reward is promised to those who love God. Why didn’t James say the crown is promised to those who endure temptations/trials since that’s what he’s encouraging his readers to do?
After James’s discourse on the importance of works in the following life, it’s clear that he’s expecting believers to expend some effort. We endure, we persevere, but Christianity is not a bootstraps operation. We do not endure in a vacuum.
The love of God fuels our endurance, and it’s our love for God that is really being tested when trials or temptations crowd into our life. James is advocating for this mindset:
“I really wish I didn’t have to endure this temptation to ___________________________, but I can persevere because, I love God and pleasing him is my most important priority.”
“I sure wish this trial would end, but while I wait, God’s love is my greatest treasure.”
Persevere is my focus word for 2021, and I have to confess that this is where reality and idealism come crashing together in my world. I am willing to persevere, but I want to set the “reasonable” length of time, after which, God will, of course, come to my rescue speedily. Here are two actions that save the day:
- Maintain your focus on God
He has hand picked whatever you’re going through for your growth. He has promised not to abandon you, even in those long and drawn out seasons that feel like wilderness living.
- See your trial/temptation for what it really is
We have a pretty way of redefining sin to make ourselves feel better about it. Are you making room in your life for thoughts, words, and actions that have no business being there? Is the trial you are going through being aggravated by your impatience?
Let’s lean into this together, friend. Because of God’s great love, we can stand the test!
Holding you in the light,
Nowhere does Jesus promise a trouble-free life, but he does promise a crown of life, the ultimate reward for perseverance.Tweet
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Because of the positive response to my first Guided Meditation, I’ve created another based on 2 Peter 1:5-7, and it will be available on the Third Thursday in the September 2021 newsletter. Spread the word! New subscribers can sign up using the handy (and only slightly annoying) pop-up form or simply enter your email here:
Northern New England friends!
I’m busily preparing a parenting workshop for the Thrive Conference, and I’d love to share the content with YOU on September 25 at New Life Church in Biddeford, Maine.
Together, we’ll explore biblical principles that inform parenting along with action steps that flow from those principles. The emphasis is on heart attitudes and the parent/child relationship rather than parenting formulas or “good behavior.”
The fall issue of Joyful Life Magazine is out now, and it includes an article from me! Look for “If I’m Already Forgiven, Why Do I Need to Confess My Sins?” Too, my friend Sue Moore Donaldson is sharing her thoughts on spiritual growth. This print publication will orient your gaze toward the beautiful growth and change that the Lord is working in our hearts and our homes.
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