12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
As James writes to the humble believers who are under oppression and persecution, he reminds them of the reward that awaits them.
There are a few specific crowns mentioned in the New Testament. Paul speaks of the crown of righteousness in 2 Timothy 4:8. It awaits all who have longed for the appearing of Jesus. 1 Peter 5:4 speaks of the crown of glory which will be given to the shepherds of God’s flock.
Here in James 1:12, it is promised that those who persevere under trial will receive the crown of life. This is similar to the words of Jesus in Revelation 2:10. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
In both of these instances, life is mentioned in the midst of severe persecution. It needs to be remembered that while believers may be in fear for their life, God is life. Jesus is the bread of life. The Bible is the words of life. Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
Likewise, Jesus taught in numerous places that one must be willing to give up his life to follow Him. Matthew 16:25 says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
As James seeks to reassure Christians undergoing persecution, it is important for them to remember that there are rewards waiting beyond their present life which may be a difficult struggle. They may be in humble circumstances but will be richly rewarded for their perseverance.