“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Yesterday, I wrote about how trials test our faith in Christ and how in the midst of trials, we need to trust Christ. Today, I want to focus on the final trajectory of our trials…becoming mature and complete in Christ.
We live in a medical world that focuses on action and accomplishment. Throughout our education, what mattered was our grade point average in pre-med and medical school, and later our abilities in diagnosis, treatment or in surgery. Growth in the medical world is based upon knowledge and ability, usually developed through our own efforts and revealed through achievement.
Growth in the spiritual world is very different.
God is more interested in who we are becoming than what we have achieved.
James tells us that God allows trials to enter our lives so that we may become more mature and complete. The first step in that process is growing our faith in God. The essence of faith is shifting our dependence upon ourselves toward a greater dependence upon God.
The temptation of the world is to develop our knowledge and abilities through self-reliance. As we do that, we might become competent physicians, but we won’t be spiritually mature physicians. Only by moving from self-reliance to God-reliance will we become spiritually mature and complete.
Trials help us make that transition.
When James writes about becoming complete, he means reaching a point in which we are fully dependent upon Christ in every part of our lives. It is a life-long process…facilitated by trials.
This is why James tells us to rejoice when we are faced with trials. We should understand that ultimately… good comes out of trials. When we encounter trials with the right perspective, we understand that they provide the means for us to grow in our faith and move toward maturity. That means we grow closer to Christ and become more like Him. Those truly are reasons to rejoice!
Prayer: Lord help me remember that trials are for my ultimate growth in You. Help increase my faith so that I can become more reliant on You.