Tuesday - December 29th
Devotionals from the Book of James
Scripture to Read Today: James 1:12-18
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.
On Christmas day 1066, William the Conqueror crowned himself King of England in a lavish Westminster Abbey ceremony. He established the long-held English tradition of a crowning ceremony for the new royal leader. Most European monarchs followed the same practice from that point forward. England held the pomp and circumstance of the crowning ceremony so tightly that the royal collection, now known as "The Crown Jewels," is one of London's most visited tourist attractions.
The Crown Jewels of the monarchy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are currently kept in the Tower of London. They date mostly to the 17th century, with a few additions in the last few centuries. The collection does include several medieval items. Many of the gemstones have an older and darker history than the crowns and scepters in which they are now set. The Crown Jewels collection includes some unusual items besides the traditional crowns, scepters, and orbs, such as spoons, swords, spurs, and salt cellars. The Crown Jewels are on permanent public display at the Tower of London. But they do make occasional appearances in grander settings such as the annual Opening of Parliament and state banquets.
When Lesli and I visited the Tower of London several years ago, the crowds were unusually thick. They kept us moving as we viewed the famous collection. We could have stayed much longer had we been allowed to do so. Not only did each item have a story, but every stone in each item had its own story.
Many of the gems had been a part of an earlier crown or scepter. Some monarch or another had repurposed them for their own royal regalia. Sometimes the story behind a gem's repurposing involved an intentional insult or mockery of an earlier ruler. Few, if any, of the crowns in the collection had a positive or inspirational story. Most had dark, sad stories attached to them.
The New Testament talks about five different crowns that we can be awarded in Heaven as Christians. One of those crowns is mentioned in the first chapter of the Book of James. Verse twelve describes 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 has promised to those who love him." Like James, Revelation 2:10 associates the Crown of Life with perseverance in suffering as well.
James says that the Crown of Life is for all who love God. Those who truly love God are those who have understood and received His love by faith in His Son. The only way anyone can love God is by embracing the love that He showed to us first. The Crown of Life is for all believers. It is especially dear to those who endure sufferings, who bravely experience persecution for Jesus, even to the point of death.
If you know Jesus as your Savior, you will be given the Crown of Life by the Lord Himself as you enter Heaven. Revelation 4:10-11 gives us a clear picture that we will take this crown and any others we are given by God and cast them at the feet of Jesus. Casting our crowns at Jesus' feet will signify that we did nothing to deserve all that God grants us in Christ. Our natural response to God's saving and keeping grace will be to throw our crowns before Him.
England's 19th-century Queen Victoria famously wished for Jesus' second coming during her reign so she could literally remove her crown and lay it at His feet. What a wonderful picture! As I read this story of Queen Victoria, I pictured all of the Crown Jewels displayed at the Tower of London piled up at Jesus' feet. This mental image pales compared to what it will be like to see millions of crowns strewn at the feet of Jesus!
You will receive a crown of life as a follower of Jesus. All of us will cast our crowns at Jesus' feet in praise, thanks, adoration, and appreciation. As you pray today, take the time to visually (and maybe even physically) move through the removal of your crown and throw it at the feet of your Savior! Allow God to bless you with the joy of knowing that you have life in Jesus Christ!
Whatever crowns we receive from our Lord one day, we will cast them all at Jesus' feet in gratitude to Him!