Opportunities For Great Joy
We know that the goal we are reaching for is holiness, we’ve learned Paul’s secret to being content in any situation, we’ve discovered what Jesus said is the only necessary thing, and now we will discuss what James says needs to happen for us to “be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
We’re not talking about what the world would call perfection—we’ve discussed that before; we know that God tells us that we are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10), the greatest thing He ever made. James is talking about the development of our faith.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
In order to fully understand these three verses we are going to look at them in reverse order beginning with verse 4: “So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” So how will we be perfect and complete, lacking nothing? When our endurance is fully developed. Therefore, we must ask: what develops our endurance and what are we supposed to “let grow?”
Verse 3: “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” So the thing we are to let grow is our endurance and our endurance grows when our faith is tested. Well, in order to endure, something has to be happening. You’re not enduring if nothing is happening, but most of us would prefer a life that didn’t involve much endurance. The very definition of endure is to “suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently.” That doesn’t sound like an easy life—certainly not a perfect or complete life, a life where we lack nothing. And when painful or difficult things happen our instinct is to push against them, to fight back. James says to let it grow, which implies doing nothing. From personal experience, I know when troubles come one of the things I want to do is push against them, to try to take control of the situation, which can often lead to me letting my anger control me. But if I want my endurance to grow and fully develop, when my faith is tested, I need to let my endurance grow. I need to trust that God is with me, taking care of the situation. James is talking about getting to a place in our faith where we can look at troubles and see them as opportunities for great joy.
Verse 2: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” Sometimes these troubles keep coming and coming and coming and it can really crush our faith. Some of you know that all too well, but James is telling us that the opposite is true, that the more troubles we have the more opportunities we have for great joy. How can we consider troubles an opportunity for great joy? Because we know that when our faith is tested our endurance will grow and when our endurance grows we will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
When we can look troubles in the face and smile, when we can actually see a power outage in 30 degree weather, or a leak through the ceiling, or a scary diagnosis, or a defiant child as opportunities for great joy, then yeah, that sounds like we would be complete, lacking nothing. So let’s make that a goal: to see troubles as opportunities for great joy, knowing that when troubles come our faith is tested and when our faith is tested our endurance has a chance to grow and when we let it grow, when we stop fighting and we trust the Lord, our endurance will be fully developed and we will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.