"A Blessing to Cling to in Times of Testing"
Wednesday AM Bible Study
April 23, 2003
Every time we are tempted, we're faced with two things: (1) the short
term pay-off of yielding to it, and (2) the long-term cost of yielding
to it. Conversely, every time we resist that temptation, we're faced with
(1) the short-term cost of resisting it, and (2) the long-term pay-off
of yielding to it. In both cases, a pay-off and a cost are involved; but
the pay-off in one is short-lived and the cost is long-term and very unwanted,
while the cost in the other is short-lived and the pay-off is long-term
and very desirable. One of the characteristics of spiritual maturity is
an increasing recognition of these two outcomes of our response to temptation,
and a progressive habit of choosing wisely.
James is writing to Christians who are under a time of trial and testing
(vv. 1-11). It would be tempting for them to give up on their faith and
return to the old ways. But this simple verse holds out a promise to them
that will stand them well in the time of testing. It reminds us that,
though a time of testing involves short-term costs, it also holds out the
promise of long-term blessing to those who endure.
I. WHO MAY CLAIM THIS BLESSING:
"Blessed is the man who endures temptation ..." (v. 12a).
A. It is a promise to those who "love" Christ. This is the great motivation
for our obedience to Him; and is the summation of the law (Matt. 22:37-40).
B. It is for those who persevere under trials in the context of that
all-consuming love. It's not the mere fact of undergoing trials that
makes them worthy; but rather their persevering under those trials (Rom.
C. It's for those who are, thereby, "approved" by trials. Again, this
is not a matter of reward, but rather a proof of the character of faith
(1 Peter 1:6-9).
II. WHAT THE BLESSING IS:
"... For when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life
which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (v. 12b).
A. Those who benefit from this promise are called "blessed". The word,
in some Greek literature, referred to the freedom from normal worries
and cares that were enjoyed by wealthy people (see vv. 9-11). This is
a blessing that will endure (Matthew 5:11-12).
B. It is described as receiving the "crown of life". The "crown" is
the wreath that the winner in a contest received (Heb. 12:1-2); and
the life being referred to is the "eternal life" that we will receive
from the Lord (Rev. 2:10). There are other "crowns":
1. Crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:4).
2. Crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8).
3. Wreath imperishable (1 Cor. 9:24-25).
C. It is sure, because it is based on the unfailing promise of God
and thus can never be lost to us (Jude 24-25).
* * * * * * * * * *
We should keep this promised blessing clearly before us during tough
times. Let's willingly suffer the short term loss that come from resisting
temptation or undergoing suffering, that we might enjoy the long-term
blessing that God promises.