James opens his letter, helping us see that God wants to bless us with growth and maturity when we encounter trials. “The trying of your faith works patience.” Now, as we reach verse 12, we see once again that God wants to bless us through our trials, this time with future rewards. “…when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
Assignment: Pray. Ask God to transform your view of the difficulties in your life. Ask Him to help you see that they are blessings, even when they don’t look or feel like it. Ask Him to change you as you continue to study.
Prayerfully read all of James 1.
- Then head to verse 12. Read it again.
- Now read verse 12, emphasizing the word blessed at the beginning of the verse.
- Read it again, emphasizing the word perseveres or endures or remains steadfast (or whatever other word your translation uses).
- Read again, emphasizing the word trial or temptation.
- Continue rereading the verse, each time emphasizing a new word.
- Pay attention to the subtle changes in meaning that show up as we emphasize different words. Note new thoughts and insights as you read.
- Notice the last main word in the verse — love. James, after all his talk about enduring trials, says that the crown of life is promised not to them who endure trials, but “to them that love Him.”
If we look at the beginning of the verse once more, we see that James is talking about the man who endures trials. He is the one who is blessed. He is the one who receives the crown of life. But that crown is promised to those who love God.
This life of testing and trials — whether we’re rich or poor, healthy or sick, married or single, employed or jobless — is not meant to be experienced with mere grit-our-teeth endurance. God hasn’t called us to a cold, dutiful, resigned enduring of trials. He has promised a crown of life to those who love Him. The endurance and the love are presented as one and the same. We “remain under” our trials because we love and trust God, just as Jesus “remained under” his great trials out of love for His Father, and out of love for us.
Our motivation is love. Love leads us to trust God, and when we trust God and ask Him for the wisdom we need to persevere and grow, He will bless us with that wisdom and ability to persevere!
Let’s look at just one word in this verse. (Many of the others are words we have already seen at the beginning of the chapter.)
- Open Blue Letter Bible, search on James 1:12, and open the interlinear tool.
- Scroll down to the words when he is tried and click on the Strong’s number.
- Note the Strong’s definitions.
- Then read the information under “Outline of Biblical Usage.”
- Meditate on this verse in light of this description of genuine, approved coins that actually were what they appeared to be. How does this relate to endurance and love?
- Pray about this. Are you persevering in trials? What is your heart’s attitude while you persevere? Does God see a genuine love and desire to trust and please Him? Does He hear you asking for the wisdom you need to live the life, with its daily testings, that He has given you?
For your children:
- Review all the verses you have memorized, and continue adding new ones, copying verses on cards, if desired, or repeating phrases of the verse over and over together until they are memorized.
- Then read James 1:12 together.
- Explain what you learned about the Greek word dokimos in your lesson.
- Watch this video about the production of coins in ancient Greece.
- Then discuss how the coin needed to be the exact same weight in order to be used. If some weighed less than they should, they were rejected. Only those of the exact required weight were approved. Those coins were what they appear to be. The others were fakes.
If people in the ancient world shaved off slivers of metal from the edges of coins, they were being dishonest and trading with counterfeit coins.
- Liken this to God testing our faith through trials. What is He looking for as we respond to trials? He wants us to trust Him, to believe that He is doing a good work in our lives in the midst of trials, to persevere instead of giving up, and to do this because we love Him. God knows our hearts. His testing allows us to better see our own hearts — whether our faith is genuine or only words.