‘Perfect,’ when I read that word in scripture, I tend to think that it means ‘without fault’. However, the Greek word ‘teleios’ comes from the original Greek word ‘telos’ which means end, termination, where a thing ceases to be, the last of a series, the eternal. Nothing to do with the absence of fault or perfection as the western world understands it. None of us is perfect. So “perfect” in James 1, does not refer to purity, or lack of fault, but rather a completion or an end to something.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:3-4 King James Version)
This means that our faith is “brought to its end” or “finished” or “completed” through various trials. Just as metal is tested by fire to become stronger and purer, so our faith is tested, made stronger and brought to greater completeness.
That brings me to the first area of the Christian walk where we are called to perseverance:
- Persevere in trials
James calls us to perseverance in all kinds of trials, tribulations, temptations, testing etc. His reason being that:
“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.” (James 1:12)
Every trial will come to an end; eventually, everything is just for a season and victory for the believer is always planned as part of the prize. Our perseverance will also be in affliction, sickness, persecution, financial trouble, marital trouble, or any other trouble that may befall a believer, there is no escaping trouble. If nothing else, a godly life will bring about persecution (2 Tim 3:12).
But kept by the power of the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our salvation (2 Cor 1:22), God Himself will keep us “strong to the end” so that we will be blameless at that end (perfection).
“Therefore, you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor 1:7-9)
- Persevere in Faith
The second area we need to persevere in is our faith. Many persevere without ever acknowledging God, and many a believer has survived a trial.
But the question is: Has your faith survived the trial.
How many people do you know that having faced devastating and difficult seasons in their lives, have come out no longer being believers. Faith is tied-up in our relationship with God.
“And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb 11:1)
A believer will ”draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings” (Heb 10:22). Over the course of their life, they have many trials, but they do not throw away their confidence in God (ie. their faith). Hebrews 10:35-39
“In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And,
“But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
- Persevere in the Christian Life
This may seem obvious to you, but ask any believer if the Christian life is easy, and the answer is never yes. Paul reminds Timothy (and it is a warning to all believers) to “watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim 4:16). Timothy was a godly man, and his doctrine was sound and scriptural. Yet, Paul warned him to watch them both closely and persevere in them because perseverance in godly living and believing the truth always accompany genuine conversion.
“God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” (Rom 2:6-7)
We are also told in James to be “doers of the word and not hearers only” because those who hear, but do not do, are “deceiving themselves.” “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it (perseveres in it)…this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-24).
The more we persevere in the Christian life, the more God grants His blessings and power upon us, thereby enabling us to continue to persevere. So let perseverance become part of your character.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:3-5)
Lord, the more I look at perseverance, the more I want to be characterized as a believer that perseveres. A believer who is strengthened during trials and sufferings in my faith and trust in You. I want to come out stronger rather than weaker, closer to the end that will be perfection. Help me to persevere in trouble, in faith and in my daily Christian walk so that I may experience Your blessing and enabling in my life.
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