James 1:4

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:4

Remember the progression of thought –

1) consider trials as pure joy;
2) because these test faith;
3) faith develops patience.

In this verse, we see what brings us to a state of fullness and maturity. This is not something which comes immediately, but rather it needs to be developed in us. As James says, “But let patience have its perfect work.” Being patient is a part of the process of being molded into what the Lord knows is right for us to be fully developed. Without it, we may possess faith, but our attitude during trials will inevitably be seen as inappropriate to the situation.

Without patience, the devil will find a place to wear us down and bring about an undesirable outcome. And so we are to not only consider trials as pure joy, but to continue to do so, even if they continue on without any seeming hope of their coming to an end. In this, the benefit is not only for us individually, but it is the Lord’s intent that our patient attitude will become an example for others to see and emulate. This is reflected in the words of David –

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:1-3

When we come to this point, we are lacking nothing in our faith. As James next says, we are to let patience work itself out so “that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” The word translated as “perfect” is teleios. It signifies “full grown” or “of full age.” It is completion in all of its parts. It is what Jesus said in the beatitudes, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” There, the same word is used twice. Once it explains how we are to be, and then it reveals how our Father in heaven is.

We are to develop to such a state that we reflect the same maturity of person that is seen in our heavenly Father. It is a high calling indeed. The importance of patience is also spoken of directly in relation to the trials which were to be set before the disciples. Jesus said this to them –

“By your patience possess your souls.” Luke 21:19

Patience is something that reveals one of the aspects of God. He has patiently endured the troubles man has sent His way from the very beginning of our time on earth. And yet, he has preserved mankind despite our bent towards wickedness. As God is so very patient, we are called to be so too. This, so that we can be perfect and mature in His presence.

In these verses of James, a training technique known as an anadiplosis is used. It is a style of writing, using repetition, where the last word of a clause, sentence, or section is then repeated at the beginning of the next clause, sentence, or section. In James’ words, patience led to patience; perfect work led to perfect (in person); lacking nothing will lead to lacking wisdom; asking of the giving of God will lead to that being given; asking in faith and not doubting will lead to he who doubts. Pay attention to such literary devices as they will help you more fully understand what the author is revealing as he progresses.

Life application: What trial are you facing right now (or for even an extended period) in your life? Suppose you are facing a major health problem. This is testing your faith as you learn to trust the Lord in an issue that isn’t simply resolved by medicine or professional help.

As your faith in the Lord increases, you learn to persevere through this particular trial. But there is another important point to learn. All of the other matters which once seemed so burdensome no longer carry the same weight in your life. You learn to discern what is truly of value and that which is trivial in nature. Once you come to trust in, and rely on, the Lord in this manner, you have become a mature Christian. James says you are not lacking anything.

God is our Creator. When we trust Him completely in every way and in all issues, we come to the final point of our faith relationship. We come to rely on the One who we should have been relying on all along. He Created us, He is sustaining us even now, and He is aware of all things at all times. There is nothing that will come our way which is outside of His knowledge or ability to control. It took Job about 40 chapters of the Bible to fully realize that, but when he did he exclaimed –

“I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” Job 42:2

As this is so, then why be troubled over difficulties in health, finances, relationships, or any other aspects of which you may have no control? He can handle them and He will in the way that is best. Have faith in His wisdom.

Lord, despite trials which are difficult, help us to persevere through them that our trust and faith in You will be built up to a perfect state. May we lack nothing in our faith as a testimony to our complete trust in Your splendid hand. In the end, may You receive the glory as we walk by faith in this world of trials and hardships. Amen.

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