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Lesson 5: Real Faith Endures Trials: Relying on Spiritual Resources and Receiving a Crown

October 27, 2004

As we have look at the truth about trials in the letter James wrote to the persecuted believers, we have seen that real faith endures trials allowing them to bring them to maturity and soundness of their faith. Our attitude toward trials is to choose joy as we consider the outcome of the trials. Our action in the trial is to endure – to live under the trial by God’s grace.

Last week in James 1:5-8 we discovered that for the trials God will give us wisdom generously, without finding fault, as we pray with believing hearts.

Read James 1:9 -12

What will carry us through the trials? Our spiritual resources and the hope of a crown.

Let’s consider the value of our spiritual resources.

Two kinds of Christians who are contrasted in verses 9 -11; the poor and the rich. The man who is in poverty financially and the man who has much material wealth.

The Jewish believers to which James was writing lived in a real world: the rich were persecuting the poor within the believing community, people were in need physically and not being taken care of, and others were living for today and not eternity.

Both the rich and poor will have trials.

      1.  What is the poor man to do? Take pride in his high spiritual position. He was to rejoice that God has reached down and lifted him up spiritually. The believer is in Christ Jesus and has an inheritance of a child of God. James is encouraging this person to take pride in the fact of his spiritual riches. The poor man cannot boast in his material resources, but he can boast in his spiritual resources. He can rely on the magnificent spiritual warehouse of God’s riches - His wealth of mercy, forgiveness, love, patience and much more - that is available to him for this trial.

      2.  What is the rich man to do? He is not to rely on his material resources but focus on that which will last him through eternity. He needs to guard against the temptation of relying on his riches – they will pass away. Riches of this world could become what he trusts in to get out of trials. He may be in a high position according to this world’s standards, but he is to take pride in bringing brought low to enter the kingdom of God. He can rely on spiritual riches that can’t fade away.

So no matter what we have or don’t have as far as material possessions, we will all go through trials and need to rely on our spiritual resources. Testings or trials have a tendency to bring us all to level ground . God has lifted up the poor man and has humbled the rich man. It will not be material resources that take you through the trials, but your spiritual resources.

Let’s look at what we glory in according to another scripture:

I Corinthian 1:26 - 30

What is it that lifts us up – exalts us as Christians? The answer centers around what God has done through Christ. When God called you, where were you? Did you consider yourself wise by human standards, influential, of noble birth? God didn’t choose you because of those things, in fact, he chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise – the weak to shame the strong – the lowly and despised , things that don’t seem to be worth anything –to nullify the things that are - so that no one can boast before God.

Verse 30 says that you are in Christ Jesus not because of anything you are or are not, but because of God. Christ Jesus has become our wisdom from God – our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Talk about an inheritance, about spiritual riches! That’s what we are to boast in - the Lord! Our Lord and his riches no matter what! God has placed us in Him. He has exalted us in Christ!

You see, spiritually, we really are on level ground. Blessed is the man who knows he is and has nothing without Christ. That is who we exalt in – Christ Jesus our Lord!

What do you boast in? What do you trust in to get you through the trials? Maybe you feel you have nothing. The truth is that you have everything in Christ! Maybe you think you have whatever it takes to get you through a trial. Be careful of trusting in your own riches (strength or money) to get you through. They can give you a false sense of security.

Verse 12 goes on to reinforce the whole first 11 verses in James chapter one. "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial…" You are blessed by God!

We are blessed, meaning spiritually prosperous, as we endure ttrials. Remember we have to get that new perspective of trials, so that we can consider it all a joy when we go through them. We are to consider the eternal benefits, not only spiritual maturity in the present but spiritual blessing in the future. "…because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." James1: 12 (NIV). You will receive a reward for enduring the trials– a crown of life. That’s a reason to endure! A crown is a symbol of honor, often given as a prize in public games. Remember the Olympians wearing the grape leave crowns this year?

I Corinthians 9:24-27 compares the Christian walk to running a physical race. The runner trains himself, denying himself of many things in order to win a perishable crown. We are to do the same, running a spiritual race to win an imperishable crown – a crown that will last!

The word disqualified in verse 27 is the negative use of the word "testing" in verse 3. The testing of your faith means to proof it genuine. So what is Paul saying here in Corinthians? That we are to deny ourselves anything that would keep us from running the race. We want to find our faith proven genuine, as we run faithfully to receive the imperishable crown awaiting us.

In Revelation 3:8, 10, 11 the Spirit of God says, to the church at Philadelphia, "You have kept my word… kept my command to endure patiently… I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown." There is a crown awaiting those who endure patiently – don’t let anybody take your crown. Don’t miss the blessing!

There are other crowns mentioned in scripture that we can receive: the crown of righteousness to those who love His appearing, the unfading crown of glory for those who give their lives in service to others, and the crown of joy for those who give forth the message of Jesus. If we are rewarded these crowns, what will we do with them? Just as the 24 elders in Revelations 4:10-11 cast their crowns before the throne of Jesus, so shall we. We will have something to give to Jesus in thanksgiving for what he has done in us!

So will you have any crowns to cast before the throne of Jesus?

Have you been persevering through the trials in your life allowing God to prove your faith, prove it genuine?

Are you pressing on? Laying aside anything that will keep you from running the race?

Are there those with whom you have shared the love of God?

Are you longing for His appearing?

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12 (NIV)

What are you waiting for?

Run the race…endure the trial…remember your inheritance awaits you?