HE WHO ENDURES
Benjie Bensing – Tripoli, Libya
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him”. James 1:12 (ESV)
When you are a believer, you are popular in a very unpopular way. You stand up against unethical business decisions, raise your objections on financial fraud practices, and fight for what you believe is the right thing to do. These often leads you to be in conflict with others, including your colleagues at work or even your own Boss; you will be singled out and persecuted because you don’t compromise your beliefs and principles.
In our text today, the apostle James exhorts us in plain language about the test that we will certainly encounter and the reward waiting for those who will endure and remained faithful. We need to know and we need to be ready because our faith will be tested.
- ENDURING THE TEST
To pass the test, a believer must first of all endure the test. Endurance here means bearing up, persevering under great trials. It is not enough to have overcome once or twice or a third time, but, in order to obtain the crown, it is necessary to endure and to conquer, even to the end.
The crown being spoken here does not refer to salvation; salvation is God’s gift to humanity with no strings attached to it. The crown here represents the reward that each believer will receive when he or she comes before the judgment seat of Christ. A crown represents honor and those who received this reward are those who lived a believer’s life that is worthy of emulation. It will be awarded to those who through perseverance and stubborn love for God has endured trials or persecutions and remained faithful to the end.
At the cross, Christ himself endured the most brutal punishment in the hands of evil men; that is why He can say with confidence, “It is finished”. Jesus endured to the end; His vicarious sacrifice, His work of redemption, has been completed despite of the limitations of the physical body.
In our lives as believers, we will be tested several times. Some of it we will pass and some of it we will fail. The challenge for us is to pass the test even if it means:
- Stretching our patience to the limit
- Pushing our endurance to the limit
- Holding on to our faith no matter what
I have two kids who are enrolled in different schools and like every parent I dream of seeing them pass the curriculum with their chosen specialty, go up on stage, receive their diploma, and become successful in life. God wants nothing less for his chosen ones.
2. LEARNING THE LESSON
There are many lessons that we learn each day. Perhaps a lifetime is not enough to learn them all. There are soft lessons and there are hard lessons in life.
Soft lessons are simple truths that can be easily understood, learned, and internalized. An ice cream taken from a freezer and exposed to room temperature will melt gradually and once it melts, it’s no longer delectable and fun to eat. During rainy season in the Philippines once you go out of the house and forgot to bring your umbrella, your life will be miserable. These are examples of soft lessons.
There are also hard lessons that we need to experience in order to learn the realities of life. Hard lessons are painful life experiences that leaves a scar or a mark in our psyche. Sometimes we encounter these lessons more than once because we don’t learn them easily; when we fail, there are times we have to repeat and there are times we have to quit and there are times we have to face the dreaded consequences.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed the LORD in the garden of Eden, they learned valuable hard lessons that reverberated across the halls of time: Eve’s maternity benefits of giving birth with ease has been revoked and for them to eat they’ll have to cultivate the soil by the sweat of their brow all the days of their lives. More importantly, both of them learned that the price to pay for sin is death (physically and spiritually). In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus where it took the rich man to go to hell first before he finally learned a lesson about heaven and earnestly begged that his whole family be warned to avoid suffering the same fate as his.
Learning from our past mistakes makes us wiser while the test itself works something inside us that makes us more mature. It gives us deep insight and helps us to become a better person. So whether life is giving us soft lessons or hard lessons, the most important thing is to learn from it.
In the academe, a lesson is given first before a test is conducted. The objective is to measure the learning curve of each student and look for areas of strategic intervention to improve learning and develop teaching methodologies.
In life, we face tests of different kinds and level of difficulty to learn the lessons afterwards. The objective is to develop our character, identify character flaws and improve in those areas. Learning those life lessons also equips us to become socially adept and become morally perceptive. When coupled with a good conscience, we are able to do what is right and good and produces benevolent acts as beings who are “created in the image and likeness of God”.
In conclusion, he who endures the test will receive his reward and will receive God’s commendation for a job well done.