A new toy or money toward a college fund…which is a better Christmas gift for my children? Decisions, decisions. If you were to ask my four-year-old, he’d say the toy. If you were to ask most grandparents, they would likely say the toy, also (ahem, mom). If you were to ask me, I’d say money toward a college fund, without hesitation. Perceived value is in the eye of the beholder.
As humans, we tend to miscalculate the value of something based on immediate need or desire. In James 1:9-16, we are shown a contrast of perceived value. On the one hand, there are things like wealth (vv. 10-11) and temptations (vv. 13-15). On the other hand, readers are reminded of the eternal value that comes with faith in Christ. James 1:12 promises the gift of the crown of life to those who endure trials. You can debate whether we’ll receive literal crowns as rewards in heaven, but what those crowns represent is clear. In James 1:12, the crown of life represents eternal life with God in heaven.
How much perceived value do we assign to eternal life? As we go through difficult times, in what type of advice do you place value? When we see a friend who is hurting, we might offer practical advice on how to get through the trial, or encouragement that it will one day end. But do we remind people of eternal life? I think sometimes we feel like pointing people to eternal life is a Sunday school answer. We feel it’s cliché or unwanted. But eternal life is not the cheap stuff, it’s the best stuff. It’s the stuff of value. It’s the only TRUE value. There is no greater hope that we can offer to anyone than the reminder that this world is temporary, but heaven is the eternal home of all who name Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
While some might desire to give different advice, there is no greater hope! This world has nothing to offer you that will last. “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.” (James 4:14). No matter the magnitude of the trials we face, or conversely, the success we have in this life, salvation and life eternal are greater. At my happiest moments in life, I can know that heaven is greater still. At my lowest points in life, I can know that I have heaven to look forward to.
We don’t have to wonder what advice to give to those who are hurting. We don’t have to wish we had something greater to offer. Offer Jesus. He’s a greater hope than anything else because through Him is the most valuable gift imaginable—life eternal.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:18
Five Crowns mentioned for those who are saved: Incorruptible Crown: 1st Cor. 9:24-25 | Crown of Rejoicing/Boasting: 1st Thess. 2:19 | Crown of Life: James 1:12; Rev. 2:10 | Crown of Righteousness: 2nd Tim. 4:8 | Crown of Glory: 1st Peter 5:1-4.
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