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olympic garland

James is one of the most practical books in the Bible. And yet, it is one of the hardest books in the Bible. In fact, Martin Luther didn’t think it belonged in the Bible. He felt some of James’ teaching seemed to contradict Paul’s assertions that we are saved by grace alone. We begin reading James’ letter in today’s Bible reading.

James urges his readers to have the right attitude about trials: Rejoice in your trials (James 1:2) because when you complete the trial, you’ll receive a crown. (James 1:12)

But this is not the kind of “crown” that we think of. When we think of a crown, we think of a diadem, the kind of crown a king wears. However, the word James chooses uses imagery of athletic contests, where the winner receives a garland to wear on his/her head. One of the symbols of the Olympics is this kind of “crown”.

Application

James says that we should rejoice whenever we encounter trials. Not if we encounter trials, but whenever we encounter trials. And he is very clear in the way he describes these trials: they are various kinds or multi-faceted. Nowhere in Scripture are believers promised an easy life!

You’re going to encounter trials.
And God intends for you to face these trials with joy.

James says that God brings trials into your life to test you. Not to see if you’ll pass the test, but to burn off impurities, (Proverbs 17:3) things that don’t look like Jesus.

Paul says that God works out everything for the good of believers, and the “good” He works these things is that we would be more like Jesus. (Romans 8:28-29)

Believer, you will encounter various kinds of trials. These trials will make you more like Jesus. So don’t resist the trials. Rejoice!

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