A Brother’s Wisdom 14

There is reciprocity between God’s blessing and human living. Notice these words in James 1:12: “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.”

The reciprocity here is a reward for perseverance, which is a faith and moral perseverance under the stress of oppression.

What interests me today is the last few words: “to those who love [God].”

Daily in the recitation of the Shema (from Deut 6:4-5), Israel was reminded that its fundamental duty was rooted in relationship: they were to love God with every globule of their being. James seems to be speaking to the kind of Israelite, now messianists, who took these words to heart and daily not only recited these words but live them out. Those who love God are promised, by God, that they will be rewarded.

What is most interesting to me here is the near equation of “loving God” with “persevering” (or enduring). To love God is to endure the tests of life in light of God’s ultimate and final justice.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Patrick

    “To love God is to endure the tests of life in light of God’s ultimate and final justice.”
    Scot, your words speak right into a recent experience – I was just at a funeral of a deeply loved 12 yr old boy of Christian parents. The tragedy was compounded by their loss of another son some years before. I’ve never witnessed such a powerful connection between loving God and the strength to persevere. The family’s love for God shone out in the midst of their grief. I hadn’t seen clearly before how intimately love is connected to hope and trust, whatever the circumstances. It was a deeply moving and humbling thing to witness.

  • angusj

    This is a wonderful reminder that it is persevering faith that is genuine (saving) faith. There are many that teach that we can be assured of salvation if we believe, but there is belief that does not persevere. We can be fully assured of God’s faithfulness to his promises and, as we mature as Christians, we can gain confidence in our own willingness to persevere (in the strength of the Holy Spirit). However, we can’t be fully assured of salvation when we first believe, that’s only guaranteed to those who continue to believe.


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