Crowned by the Lord from Within (2)
Why does the Lord give
us trials? So that His life
may grow and develop
within us, and even
shine out from us
In the previous Note we saw that the crown of righteousness (1 Timothy 4:8), the crown of life (James 1:12, Rev. 2:10), and the crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4) must come forth from within us in this age, if we are to be rewarded with these crowns by the Lord when He returns. (See)
In the New Testament we see this most clearly with the crown of life. James tells us,
Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
— James 1:12
When we read this, our thought is probably, if we endure some trial for the Lord, then He will reward us with a crown when He returns. That is certainly true (cf. Rev. 2:10), but it is not what James says here.
Rather, he tells us that we will receive the crown of life when we have “been approved”—not when we see the Lord, but after we have passed through the trial. That is, as a result of passing through a trial with the Lord, the life that we received when we were born anew will begin to shine forth from us a little more, even in our living today.
For a long time I worked at a Christian bookstore in Chicago. One day an older gentleman came in with his daughter. They were from Romania, and I don’t think he spoke much English, but she explained that her father had been imprisoned for a time by the country’s evil dictator, Ceaușescu, who had persecuted many Christians in that country. I just had a sense that with this man, who had suffered in that way for Christ, there was a particular dignity, and even a bit of the shining out of Christ; at least to a small extent, he was already wearing the crown of life.
And of course, this same principle is most clearly seen in the life of the Lord Jesus Himself. He first endured the temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13), and then, after defeating Satan, He “returned in the power of the Spirit” to begin His ministry (Luke 4:14).
Do you know the real reason why the Lord brings us through so many trials in this life? We may say, “To teach me patience,” or humility, or obedience, etc. There is something to that, but in the deepest sense, He gives us the trials so that the divine seed that is within us (1 Pet. 1:23) may grow and develop and eventually shine out from within us. Then even today others will see that we are “crowned,” so to speak, with the divine righteousness, life, and glory.
If a good number of Christians in this country were allowing the Lord to bring them through such experiences today, surely there would be no problem with the gospel here! In that case, after passing through such a trial, we would also “return in the power of the Spirit” to bring salvation to others!
May we be faithful to the Lord to allow Him to bring us through the trials we face today, so that we may gain the crown, both in this age and in the next.
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— 25 May 2023 —