God’s reward for the “tried and true”

Posted Jan 10, 2019

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Daily Scripture

James 1:2-5, 9-12

2 My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. 3 After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. 5 But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.

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9 Brothers and sisters who are poor should find satisfaction in their high status. 10 Those who are wealthy should find satisfaction in their low status, because they will die off like wildflowers. 11 The sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass so that its flowers fall and its beauty is lost. Just like that, in the midst of their daily lives, the wealthy will waste away. 12 Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward.

Reflection Questions

Legendary Dallas coach Tom Landry said, “People striving, being knocked down and coming back... this is what builds character in a man.”* In a similar vein to Coach Landry, James said that God’s reward for those who faithfully persist through life’s trials and struggles is even greater than a stephanos (the wreath of leaves a Greek Olympic champion won). “They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him,” he said. Our reward now and eternally, our “crown,” is the quality of life God gives us.

  • Verse 2 (“think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy”) might sound like idealistic, “ivory tower” thinking. But James led the early Christian church in Jerusalem. He saw some of his fellow believers killed and many others driven away by persecution (cf. Acts 7:54-8:2). He knew first-hand about tests and trials. In what ways have you found God’s deep joy even in trials? How, if you stay connected with God, can your hardest times help you develop inner strength and endurance?
  • Scholar William Barclay said, “What is the crown? It is the crown of life; and that phrase means that it is the crown which consists of life. The crown of the Christian is a new kind of living which is life indeed…. The struggle is the way to glory, and the very struggle itself is a glory.”** In what ways have you found “a new kind of living which is life indeed” in following Jesus? How have struggles and trials helped shape your new kind of living?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you lived encircled by enemies and misunderstood by friends. Please teach me to see my trials as you saw yours, as a door to “a new kind of living which is life indeed.” Amen.


* Quote found at https://www.brainyquote.com/search_results?q=Tom+Landry.

** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters of James and Peter (Revised Edition). Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, page 49.

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Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as a Human Resources Specialist. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

The Parable of the Lost Crochet Hook

There once was a woman who had been crocheting a lovely blanket. For the sake of the story, we’ll call her Jamelle Fregory. After taking a few days away from the project, Jamelle returned to complete the blanket. The only problem was that she couldn’t find her precious green crochet hook. She looked on the table where she normally put it down. When she didn’t see it there, she looked under the table. She looked on the couch, she looked under the couch, and she pulled out all the cushions and looked in the couch. She searched in and under chairs and on shelves high and low. Jamelle threw up her hands in frustration. Where could the crochet hook be? Had her husband taken it somewhere? Had a cat mistaken it for a toy and carried it far away? She spread her search to the kitchen, looking through drawers and on the counter. She even went through her laundry, wondering if she left it in a pocket. But to Jamelle’s dismay, the hook was not there either.  In a last-ditch effort to find the hook, she sifted through her bag of crochet supplies. There, at the bottom of the bag, was her precious green crochet hook -- exactly where it should be. When she found the hook, Jamelle wanted to proclaim, “Rejoice with me! I have found my lost hook!” That is, until she realized that it was completely moronic not to look in the crochet supplies to begin with. In shame, she kept this secret to herself and returned to crochet her blanket.

Listen then to what the story of the woman (who couldn’t possibly be me, because what a stupid, stupid thing to do) and her lost crochet hook means: When someone is searching for wisdom, they will often spend much of their time looking for it in vain. They seek to find it on their own, spending hours tossing around empty thoughts in their heads. Perhaps they will search for it on the Internet, in a book, or in a quick-fix philosophy. It is only when they have exhausted all other options that they turn to God, the keeper of wisdom.

But when we need wisdom, our first response should be to go where wisdom is ultimately found. If we start by turning to God, he will help guide us through situations. We don’t have to wear ourselves out, looking for hollow help from unmerited sources. God, who ultimately desires the best for us, longs to provide the direction we’re searching for. When we are in need of wisdom, all we need to do is first look to him as this is exactly where it should be.

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