Chewing on steadfastness this morning thanks to James. To remain, to persevere, to endure–something to be desired, if even at great cost. That’s why James says we should “count it all joy” when we encounter “trials of various kinds.”
. . . for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
(James 1:3 ESV)
Steadfastness is a goal worthy of being sought. When it marks a person as a foundational trait, when the root of endurance goes deep and remains strong, it bears fruit in various and diverse ways. When fully developed, keepin’ on keepin’ on has a profound impact on the total character of a person.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(James 1:4 ESV)
In fact, there is a blessing promised for those who hang in there.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial . . .
(James 1:12a ESV)
But here’s the thing I’m chewing on this morning. If I’m reading this right, there is also a connection between remaining steadfast and loving Him.
. . . for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.
(James 1:12b ESV)
The blessing promised for persevering through hard times, for enduring seasons of testing, is the crown of life. But what jumps out this morning is that the crown isn’t promised to the victor, or to the overcomer, but to the those who love Him. It’s not the reward for being tough when the going gets tough, nor the prize for powering through when being overpowered. Instead, the crown of life is for those who love God. Evidently, those who love God are those able to stand amidst the storm when the storm rages.
Remaining steadfast, it would seem, is less about willpower and more about “not my will” power. Those who love God, trust God. Those who love God, know that God loves them and has promised to never leave them nor forsake them. Those who love God, believe God is working all things for their good and His glory. Those who love God, rest in His sovereign purposes and promises, being confident nothing has reached them that hasn’t passed through His fingers.
Isn’t that the core of being steadfast? Not our ability, but our adoration? Not of relying on our self-determination, but of responding to the Son’s self-sacrifice on our behalf?
Love for God, the great accepter of whatever the circumstance. Love for God, the enduring motivator to cling to Him even when our strength is failing. Love for God, the catalyst for knowing the supernatural power to persevere under mounting pressure.
For love casts out fear (1Jn. 4:18).
What’s more, it bears all things, believes all things, and hopes all things. Thus, love endures all things (1Cor. 13:7).
The crown of life is promised for those who love Him. And those who love Him–and that by His gracious enabling and power–remain steadfast.
Worship is fuel for persistence. The testing of our faith, an opportunity for our adoration of the Savior to be manifest through our endurance.
Remaining steadfast and loving Him.
And that by His grace. And that for His glory.