Unswerving constancy

Unswerving constancy

God blesses those who patiently endures testing and temptation. Afterward, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12

James 1:2-4

 2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Is it beyond the pale to say that almost every day each of us faces difficulties and trials? A wise sage said, “Cripple [a man] and you have Sir Walter Scott. Lock him in prison and you have John Bunyan. Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge and you have George Washington. Raise him in poverty and you have Abraham Lincoln. Strike him down with infantile paralysis and he becomes Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Burn him so severely that doctors say he will never walk again and you have Glen Cunningham, who set the world’s record in 1934 for the outdoor mile. Deafen him and you will have Ludwig van Beethoven. Call him a slow learner, retarded, and write him off as uneducatable and you have Albert Einstein” (John C. Maxwell).

Is there a strategy that can be used to effectively deal with the vicissitudes and struggles of life? A shortsighted solution is to attempt to change your circumstances. Many make attempts to avoid them as much as possible. But somehow difficulties and trials seem to follow you wherever you go. A better, more long-lasting approach is rather than attempting to change your circumstances, we allow the Father to change us. Our greatest enemy is not the adversity itself. Rather the greatest enemy is how we respond to adversity. It’s not difficulties or adverse conditions that mess us up. Rather it is how we react to them.

The Scriptures offer a solution path that works. A unique kind of patient, yet hard-charging perseverance.

James 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial.

The Greek term that is translated persevere, endure, or patience is hupomene. It has the sense of persevering against, outlasting, resisting by holding one’s ground.

The KJV translates hupomene as patience. But patience is far too acquiescent and docile a term to accurately represent hupomene. Hupomene does not just passively ride things out and wait for better times. Rather it responds assertively. Rather than merely putting up with difficult circumstances, hupomene is the ability to turn them into greatness. Its essence is captured in the phrase, “We shall overcome.” A two-word definition of hupomene is unswerving constancy.

But there’s more. “If Christians meet the testings of life in the steadfast constancy which Christ can give, life becomes infinitely more splendid than ever it was before. The struggle is the way to glory, and the very struggle itself is a glory” (Barclay).

REFLECT & PRAY

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other” (Walter Elliot).

Father I am so incomplete. I desire to be perfect, complete, lacking in nothing. Teach me and encourage me to respond properly to the trials and difficulties You send my way.

INSIGHT

What is the purpose of going through trials? The answer is character development.

James 1:2-4

 2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance has its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

When trials and troubles come our way, they put our faith to the test. There are two possible responses to any test. When they are faced appropriately, they are harmless and produce the desired result, in particular, endurance, that is, hupomene. When hupomene flourishes it will produce the Father’s desired end: we will be perfect, complete, and lacking in nothing. Hupomene makes us whole.

The Greek term translated perfect is teleios. Teleios has the sense of being mature, finished, or complete. In this passage, it has a relative sense. It does not mean without flaw or error but indicates maturity and completeness. It implies a process. Being perfect, in this sense, is not the opposite of being imperfect. Rather, being perfect is the opposite of being incomplete.

The Greek word translated complete, is holokleros. When something is holokleros, it is complete in every part. It is whole, entire, lacking nothing. The Greek term translated lacking is leipo. Leipo means to be deficient, wanting, incomplete.

No one becomes complete, whole, or mature overnight. It is a slow, incremental process. When the developmental process is finished, we are fully formed, everything we need, we have. We lack nothing.

Picture a caterpillar in its chrysalis. It is being transformed into a beautiful, lithe butterfly. Only when the metamorphosis is finished, and all the parts are fully formed, does it emerge and fly away.

“As the athlete ‘endures’ bodily stress in order to achieve a high level of physical endurance, so the Christian is to endure the trials of life in order to attain the spiritual endurance that will bring perfection” (Moo).

“What James is suggesting, then, is that the Christian must practice ‘steadfastness’ in order to achieve a settled, steadfast character” (Moo).

The Father uses trials and tribulations to discipline, that is, child-train every daughter and son of the King. We are often brought to the end of ourselves. He shatters our self-reliance, pride, and waywardness. When we respond properly to the difficulties, we experience an inward transformation. We learn to depend fully on the Lord Jesus Christ. He exchanges our human weakness for His supernatural strength through the work of the Holy Spirit within us. From our weakness He creates strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 9 “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

 10 . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.

James offers a sneak peek for each child of the King regarding how we become everything the Father desires for us. When the process is complete, we are approved. The Greek word translated approved is dokimos, when precious metals and coins were tested and deemed worthy, they were considered dokimos. They had passed the test and were approved and considered genuine (EBCNT). The goal of the test was not to identify those that failed it, but rather those that had passed. They were approved. The Father’s heartfelt desire for every child of the King is that they be approved.

¯\_()_/¯

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