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)
Everyone appreciates a passing grade. No one wants to fail. When I was in fifth grade, I received an “F” on a pop quiz. I only scored two correct answers out of five. It’s the only failing grade I ever received in school. (Now, I know that some people just aren’t into school. I’m not bragging. For the sake of full disclosure, I was also the kid who struck out at tee ball. Ouch! The ball is right there… I quit the team.)
Our educational system has indoctrinated us with the idea of what it takes to measure up. If we can accomplish the first three letters of the alphabet (A, B, C), then we’re in reasonably good shape. If we get a little further into the alphabet, we’re in trouble. If we perform well, we succeed. If we perform poorly, we fail.
God doesn’t grade on a curve. He also doesn’t grade on a scale. Sinners go to Hell. Saints go to Heaven. The only difference is that “saints” chose God’s forgiveness and “sinners” chose against it.
The test James speaks of in this passage is for “saints” only. Here’s the test: “if you persevere, you will receive the crown.” Here’s what it doesn’t say: “if you persevere with a smile on your face, if you never have a bad day, if you never utter a discouraging word, if you never doubt, if you sing hymns and recite platitudes while you’re suffering, then God will bless you” – those aren’t the conditions at all.
If we persevere, if we grin and bear it, if we admit our weakness and lean into God, if we just make it through, then we will receive the crown of life. There are no A-plus Christians or D-minus Christians. The crowns are all the same color. There is no gold, silver and bronze.
How do we pass God’s tests? By simply completing the test and not giving up. It’s okay to strike out. Just don’t quit the team.
What do you feel like giving up on today? I would encourage you to give up trying to figure everything out and surrender it to God. Instead of walking out, turn to God and say, “I just can’t fix this. God, I need you to take over.” Then, wait and see what He does.
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