I try to make it a practice to jog at least a mile on most mornings – but not because I like to jog. Actually, I have to force myself to get out and jog because I don’t particularly care for jogging.
The reason I jog is for the health benefits that it can bring. Among other things, jogging helps to control stress, stabilize blood pressure, and control weight. I also find that after I jog, I seem to have more energy throughout the day. So, the “rewards” from jogging are worth the effort that it takes. That gives me motivation. However, it still takes work and determination.
It takes perseverance for me to get up in the morning and jog. I can easily talk myself out of it, and many times I do. Some excuses I use are: It’s hard, my body aches, fatigue, I could sleep longer, or I could have more time in the morning to relax and read. Probably my most frequent excuse is that I just don’t want to go.
So, I push myself past those excuses and go out anyway. In a sense, I work to persevere.
Our walk with Christ also takes perseverance. The word, perseverance, can be defined as “patient endurance of hardship,” or “persisting in spite of difficulties and discouragement.”
Yet, while perseverance is difficult, it can reap spiritual blessings that grow us and deepen our walk with Christ. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9). “Endure hardship as discipline...it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:7-11).
James tells us to consider it pure joy whenever facing trials. See this link for a study of James 1:2-4:
Many of the trails we will face are internal struggles or hardships that are common among men. Some, however, will involve being targeted or attacked because of our faith in Christ. Jesus told his followers, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20).
One positive aspect that comes from this type of perseverance is a displayed evidence of a person’s genuine relationship with Christ. Hebrews, chapter 11, gives accounts about Christians who were tortured for their profession of faith in Christ. They remained faithful to their profession of Christ, even to the point of death.
Trials and persecution sift true Christians from those who give lip service to Christ. To stand steadfast for Jesus Christ under pressuring situations, shows strong conviction. Conversely, although faltering under pressures or persecution doesn’t specifically mean a person is outside of Christ, it could be an indicator of no genuine relationship with Christ, or of a shallow fellowship.
Further, for a believer who succumbs to fear under persecution to the point they become stagnant, it is possible to lose rewards. One such reward is the “crown of life.”
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
It needs to be stressed that when James speaks here of a crown of life, he is not using this as a metaphor for salvation. At the point of salvation, a believer is secure in the hands of Jesus. The Lord does not revoke His salvation. Salvation is eternal.
Rather, the crown of life is one of five crowns listed in the New Testament that Christ will give as rewards to believers after the resurrection.
The crown of life will be given to believers who persevere through temptations, tribulations, and persecutions. This crown is spoken of by Jesus as a reward for those who faithfully endure trials and attacks brought against them because of their uncompromising allegiance to Him and His Word.
Fear none of those things which thou shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation for ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life (Revelation 2:10, KJV).
As a Christian, we should desire crowns of reward – but not out of selfish motives. The reason we should desire any of the five crowns is so we can return these and lay them at the feet of Jesus. That’s where our motivation should lie, to have treasure of true worth so we can lay at the feet of Jesus. He deserves it all!
Graciously, God doesn’t leave us alone to fend off, or fret through persecution by ourselves. We’d never make it in our strength. But, God has placed His Spirit within us who gives us strength and wisdom to endure.
“Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Tim. 6:12).