James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Once again we have a passage that would hardly be welcomed in many churches today. We don’t like people talking about trials and perseverance! Actually, where the NIV says, “Perseverance must finish its work,” the Japanese says, “Put perseverance (patient endurance) to work fully.” In other words, it’s a command. If we fail to put in the effort, we won’t be “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Recently I read about a vision someone had of Jesus telling him that people were so focused on His love and grace that they had forgotten He is returning as King. I have no trouble believing that was a completely genuine, valid vision. We try to attract people to the Gospel by making it all soft and sweet. A marshmallow isn’t very durable! God isn’t after marshmallows, He’s after disciples who will follow Him no matter what. We have forgotten the message of repentance, and there is no salvation without it. People need to be told of the love and grace of God, certainly, but they must also be told how much they need that love and grace, because they are utterly doomed without it. We must not promise people “sweetness and light” all the time, because life on this earth isn’t like that. As Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But rejoice, for I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33) We want what God has for us, but we forget verse 12 here: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”
This is certainly applicable to me, as it is to every believer. We don’t like to need to persevere; we’d like everything dumped into our laps right now. I’m no different, but I have learned that many things are sweeter when we have had to wait for them. Just last night our supper was about two hours later than we usually eat, and boy, did it taste good! I have no idea when God will fulfill His various promises to me, either the ones that are to all believers or some He has given to me personally, but I am to persevere in the assurance that He is faithful. As the Bible repeatedly assures us, God is totally faithful and will reward us for our obedience, but at the same time we aren’t to presume. Jesus said clearly, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:10) I can hardly claim to have done everything I was told to do! I am to rejoice in God’s grace toward me, and know that He will be totally consistent with His character, and that is a very good thing indeed.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all that You take me through to teach me faith and perseverance. Help me receive those lessons with joy, drawing others into discipleship by my example, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!