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III. What you must do in this time of trial

March 31, 2007

(James 1:4) 

What you must do is rather simple, by which I don’t mean easy.  I don’t mean simple as the opposite of difficult, I mean simple as the opposite of complex.  All you do is persevere.  But he says it more indirectly.  Let perseverance have its perfect work.  Why say it that way?  It seems to indicate that if you persevere, it will result more or less automatically in your growing towards perfection.  You don’t need to work on your character, you just need to persevere and if you do growth in character will follow.   Perseverance through trials will work maturity.  It really does work, if you’ll just let it. 

How would someone not let perseverance work?  What’s the opposite of letting it work?  The word rendered perseverance, or your version may say endurance or steadfastness means literally “remaining under”  Pressure comes and you remain under it.  Trials come and you don’t flee them.  Affliction comes and you remain still.  Temptation comes and you don’t run after it but you stay put.  Anxiety comes and you don’t escape into worldly diversion but you face your fears.  That’s steadfastness.  That’s letting perseverance have its perfect work.   It means waiting on God for deliverance in the time of trial and not choosing the first off ramp into vanity fair when the path of righteousness gets rocky. 

Do this, verse 4 says, and you will become perfect and complete.  This word “perfect” is translated “mature” in the NIV, and it can mean that, and I always thought it meant that just because I memorized it in the NIV 15 years ago.  But after studying it this week, I’ve decided that I don’t think James is talking about maturity in this life.  He really means perfection, but he means eschatological perfection.  He’s talking about heaven.  Perseverance will keep you on the path to heaven and there you will be perfect and complete, not lacking anything. 

As Paul said in 2Cor 4:17 “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  They actually contribute towards your eternal glory.  It really works!  Your trials are purposeful and effectual.  You won’t be perfect in this life, but you will progress toward that perfection.  And the good news is you don’t need to be perfect to have assurance of future glorification, you just need to persevere.  Paul said in Php 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on”  That’s a great motto, “not perfect, but I press on”  One day this time of trial will be over and you will be seen to have passed the test, not because you were perfect, but because you persevered.

In summary, two commands that James has for you in this morning’s text and I repeat them so that you can go from here this week and be doers of this word and not hearers only.  First, think, consider, count it all joy.  Give some deep meditation to these things so that you can rejoice even in your trials.  And second, persevere, press on, be steadfast.  Don’t choose escapism but welcome your trials and let perseverance have its full effect, perform its perfect work in you

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