James Series | Writings

James 1:12 – Here’s Your Crown

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.

If you were to visit my office, you would see several essentially worthless pieces of paper prominently displayed. As I am typing this, I can look to my left and see two certificates from McDonalds, commemorating my completion of manager training with that company, eons ago. Further down the same wall is my certificate of ordination from our sending church, and above that my certificate of commissioning for missionary service from Baptist Mid Missions.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. Each one of these certificates holds great meaning for me. I had to work hard for my position as a McDonalds manager, and the skills I learned during that time are still beneficial to me, long years later. Ordination by my local church and commissioning through our agency still stand out to me as two of the most momentous achievements of my life.

But the pieces of paper that commemorate those achievements are of little value, in and of themselves. They have a resale value of exactly zero dollars and zero cents. They are merely representative of a particular reality.

The Point of All This

So far in the book of James we have seen how God wants us to think counter-intuitively about our sufferings. Instead of a reason to complain, they are a motive for rejoicing. The author then proceeds to give us several reasons why this is so: the trials we face build many essential qualities into our lives, they teach us to depend on God, and give us an eternal worldview.

Now, in verse twelve, he tells us that for those who endure trials, there is something called a “Crown of Life” stored up for us.

So…big deal, right?

I mean…unless you are beauty pageant contestant, a crown is not something you have spent any time desiring. Are we to think that we spend all of our lives going through our trials and troubles, only to get to the pearly gates, and have St. Peter (or whoever) say “Hey, great job with all the trials and stuff. Here’s you’re crown.”

That’s how I always pictured it, at the same time trying to generate a kind of false enthusiasm for the crown. It must be a particularly beautiful crown…

But that’s not it at all. 

One of the resources I have found helpful in weekly preparations of these devotionals has been the Daily Dose of Greek series on YouTube, put together by Greek professor Rob Plummer. His video on this verse was very helpful.

It boils down to this: the crown of life is not an achievement award, to be put on a shelf and forgotten. No, for the believer who endures tribulation, the reward is life itself.

Did you catch that difference? The crown is eternal life. Eternal life is the crown.

So in addition to all the other benefits that have already been listed, our trials can be seen as a motive for rejoicing because our reward is everlasting life.

Now that’s something to look forward to!

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