James 1:12 “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
The second reward for those who remain faithful is that they are:
James tells us that those who faithfully face trials and temptations are not just approved, they are approved by the Almighty. After the proof is victoriously demonstrated in the way that they live through the dark and difficult times they are approved by God. Today we want to be approved before we are proven, we want the affirmation we just don’t want the affliction. But only after one is proven are they approved. The word translated approved or tried here was used of metals and coins which had been tested and found to be true or genuine. What good is counterfeit currency, it’s not even worth the paper it’s printed on because it isn’t real. We may not like trials but these times of testing reveal what is real. While good times are what many of us are chasing after and living for they really don’t reveal our real hearts. It’s the groaning times, not the good times that reveal where we really are. Today there are a lot of counterfeit Christians, people who claim to believe but at the first sign of difficulty or distress, they bail. Their faith is not in God but in everything going good, instead of following the Father they are following feelings. And as long as life keeps feed their feelings with warm fuzzy feel goods they are content, but the moment there is a crisis they abandon Christ. The truth is they were never really chasing after Christ they were just chasing happiness. Happiness is dependent on our happenings where faith is tied to a Father that will never fail. As long as we keep following our feelings we will always be fair weather followers, committed as long as we are not challenged. But at the first sign of struggle, we will cut and run because we were never really committed to Christ and His cause. This is not faith it’s fickle, where we worship good times instead of worshiping God. We can rejoice in trials because tough times reveal that what we believe is real. The truth is that trials can be our greatest testimony, because in the midst of the storm what a watching world gets to witnesses is genuine faith that can’t be faked. The outcome of enduring in the fiery forge of trials is being approved by God. His approval of our faith is precious because it assures us that our little faith is genuine faith. Like a gold prospector that brings their sample of ore into the assayer’s office to be tested. Though the sample itself may not be worth more than a few dollars, the approval, the official statement reveals that the mine that the ore came from is worth millions. It assures the prospector that he has a gold mine. God’s approval of our faith is precious because it assures us that our faith is genuine. Trials bring blessing because they prove our faith is genuine and God blesses us as we trust Him through the trial. Several years ago one of the adds that aired to recruit new Marines said, we are looking for a few good men that will be tested to see if they have the metal to be Marines. The same is true of Christians, we will be tested to see what kind of metal we are made of. It is through times of pressure that we are molded and we mature. We may not like the process but we will like the product. Trials expose our real character, not who we say we are but who we really are. Christianity is not a religion for the faint of heart or those who want to spend their time whining. There is no place for wimps in the development of faith, for faith development and the cultivating of our character calls for stamina and courage. As Christians, we are called to take up our cross and follow Christ, the one who was crucified. So why would we think that this would be an easy calling? Those who are faithful in the fire are rewarded by growth in their Christian character. “Our Father, who seeks to perfect His saints in holiness, knows the value of the refiner’s fire. It is with the most precious metals that the assayer takes the most pains, and subjects them to the hot fire, because such fires melt the metal, and only the molten mass releases its alloy or takes perfectly its new form in the mould. The old refiner never leaves his crucible, but sits down by it, lest there should be one excessive degree of heat to mar the metal. But as soon as he skims the surface the last of the dross, and sees his own face reflected, he puts out the fire.” –Arthur T. Pierson
He sat by a fire of sevenfold heat
As He watched by the precious ore,
And closer He bent with a searching gaze
As He heated it more and more.
He knew He had ore that could stand the test;
He wanted the finest gold
To mold as a crown for the king to wear–
Set with gems with a price untold.
So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Though we fain would have said to Him “nay,”
And He watched the dross that we had not seen
As it melted and passed away.
And the gold grew brighter and yet more bright,
But our eyes were so dim with tears
We saw but the fire, not the Master’s hand,
And questioned with anxious fears.
Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow
And it mirrored a form above
Of Him bent o’er the fire, unseen by us,
With a look of ineffable love.
Can we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause us a moment’s pain?
Ah, no, but He saw through the present cross
To bliss of eternal gain.
So, He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure;
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat
Than was needed to make it pure.
As we go through the fiery trials of this life we need to remember that God can use the heat to refine and cleanse us, not only for our good but also His glory. If you are in a time of refining don’t complain about the trials instead rejoice in the truth that your Father can use this fire to refine. Don’t let the fires defined you let them refine you.