The Crown of Life
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12, ESV
God’s word gives a special promise to reward those who stand strong in their faith when under persecution. We should understand persecution as any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian.
Anything from verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes, and actions. Extreme Actions could include beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are all examples of persecution.
When we think of Christian persecution, we often think of what happened in the 1st century under the tyranny of the brutal Emperor of Rome, Nero. Nero would capture and torture Christians. Impaling them upon spears and lining the main street with their bodies as a sign of warning! Christians were thrown to the lions in the Coliseum for entertainment. Nero’s plan was to eradicate Christianity. But what most people don’t know is that as the world has grown so has persecution! There is more persecution today than any other time period in our world history.
GLOBAL PERSECUTION TODAY
Christians are being pushed out of their churches in Algeria, Bibles are being burned in India, Christian homes are being burned in Vietnam. In China, any unregistered church is demolished. Right now Christians are living in times of global persecution like never seen before. According to Open Doors, a ministry that monitors global persecution around the world notes this reality. They report that some 260 million Christians in the world are experiencing high levels of persecution for their choice to follow Christ, that’s 1 in 9 Christians worldwide experiencing high levels of persecution.
WHAT ABOUT THE USA?
In another report from the International Christian Concern Organization. Three countries were listed as the top three as growing hot spots for persecution. Can you guess which ones? According to the report, these countries include Mexico, Russia, and the United States of America. While American citizens are not experiencing the same level of persecution as in other parts of the world Americans are being persecuted. There is a certain segment of the US culture and the courts that are dedicating themselves to the removal of the Christian faith from the public life of our country.
GOD’S WORD TO US
This shouldn’t be too big of a surprise to us. The Apostle told us that “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted!” (2 Timothy 3:12) This means that we ought to expect it. So much so, that if we are not being persecuted something might be wrong with us. The best news is that God’s Word says repeatedly that if we are able to handle this persecution and stand strong, we will be blessed! As the Apostle Peter said, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.”(I Peter 3:14) Not only does God’s Word promise blessing but he promises reward as well in Heaven. Notice what Jesus says. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven. (Matthew 5:11–12)
May these words bring comfort to you as you go along in life’s trials and tribulations. The time will come when others gossip or slander your name. Some will falsely accuse you of things you didn’t do. Others will insult you and seek to injure you and your reputation. Stand strong Christian. Don’t retaliate with anger but be patient. Don’t repay evil for evil. But do good. God’s Word says.. “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the LORD.” (Romans 12:17–19). These are solid truths for the strong Christian man and woman to hold on to in hard times. We are to try our best to keep the peace between others if it’s possible! And we are to remain steadfast and realize that we who do so will receive the Crown of Life, which God has promised! (James 1:12) That’s good news! God is with us and will bless us and reward us in Heaven!
Has someone wronged you? Made up lies about you? Take a minute and pray. Ask God to speak into this situation. Ask Him what you should do. Wait and listen, before doing anything else today.
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