How Do We Remain Steadfast in Trials?
In James 1:2, we are told to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Now, in verse 12, we are reminded that steadfast people inherit the crown of life on the other side of tribulation, and in this way the testing of trials are a bridge to our eternal reward. This is why we can “count it all joy.”
Steadfastness and Love Are Evidences of Salvation, Not the Cause
We must be careful to see that in James 1:12 the cause of eternal salvation is not the focus. A person does not earn or achieve the crown of life through steadfastness or love of God — there are other Bible verses that teach us very clearly about the cause of eternal salvation. James 1:12 however teaches us about some identifying marks of eternal salvation. It gives us certain evidences of a genuinely saved soul.
Twin Evidences: Steadfastness Under Trail and Love for God
There are two, seemingly distinct evidences of salvation, put together in this verse. First it says that after someone has stood the test of trials in this life and remained steadfast, then they will receive the crown of life. One evidence of eternal salvation is steadfast perseverance. Second, it says that the crown of life is promised to those who love God. Another evidence is love for God. How do these two evidences of grace conspire together?
The crown of life is not given to those who receive the gospel “with joy” and “endure for a while” but “when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matthew 13:21). People who turn away from God under trial show that they treasure a trial-free existence more than they treasure God.
God’s people do not treasure a thornless life. Their chief aim is not to a have a tribulation-free existence. Their chief aim is to see Christ glorified and to be satisfied in the sight of his glory, and this is why they can remain steadfast under trial.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 a trial came to Paul in the form of a thorn in the flesh, and Paul pleaded with God to take it away. God chose to let Paul remain with the thorn in the flesh. Did Paul then forsake God, saying, “What good is it to follow you if I don’t achieve what I really want through you?” No. Rather, he began to see his trial as something to boast in, because he saw that Christ was being glorified in his weakness. This is where steadfastness under trial comes together with love for God. Paul’s treasure was not a thornless existence, it was Jesus glorified. He loved God, more than anything.
The Person Who Shows These Evidences Is Blessed
Happy are the people who are growing in eternal satisfaction in the glory of God. When Christ comes again and commands their bodies to rise from the grave and be made new, their eyes will behold the fullness of his glory, and they will have their treasure!