“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:4
Like the Proverbs in the Old Testament, many see James’ letter as the New Testament’s letter of wisdom. Throughout James we see practical advice on how live out our faith (“faith without works is dead,” for example), and this counsel begins in the opening verses as James talks of trials and their role in our lives.
Trials, James tells us, produce endurance and perseverance in our character. This perseverance he concludes, makes us whole, mature and complete, “lacking in nothing.”
Honestly, I do not wish for trials. If I want good company in this view, I need look no farther than Jesus who, when facing crucifixion—the greatest trial of all—asked that “this cup pass from me.” Yet Jesus knew that unless he submitted to God’s will, even he would not be complete in fulfilling his mission to save humankind.
Jesus pushed forth through this unfathomable trial and was able to say with his final words, “It is finished.” This was his defining moment, when all could see Jesus was “mature and complete, lacking in nothing” just as James wishes for us in his letter.
We only get to completeness by trial. Apparently, this is the path. The trials may sometimes be small, asking us to persevere when someone treats us poorly. Or, the trial may be incredibly large, such as a physical or health challenge, the loss of a loved one, or rejection by others.
Our next trial could be financial, relational, physical or mental. We don’t know, and that’s the thing about trials. Rarely do we see them coming.
Trials are surprising, sometimes shocking. Many times we do not understand the “whys” of our trial. All we know is that it is our mission to persevere, and to count this trial as “joy.”
Why joy? Because we know that when we persevere, we grow in the character of Jesus Christ. As we follow Jesus, we prepare ourselves for entrance into his kingdom.
And we are reminded of Jesus who saw his greatest trial as one of joy. We are told in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus persevered. He endured. If anyone is “perfect and complete,” it is Jesus.
God offers us a similar opportunity. The path includes trial. It is not the easy way, but it is the only way.
Trials are coming. We will look at those trials not with happiness, but with joy. Because we know when we persevere, we will be everything God wants us to be.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Phil. 2:5–8)
At Christmas we are often drawn to the account of the Lord's humble birth, and certainly He came into the world in unpretentious circumstances, but His humility had an even greater impact. Jesus made Himself of no reputation, removing His royal robes, so that we might be adorned with the garments of salvation.
Andrew Murray captures it well, "Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us."
The Word tells us to put on, or clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 13:14). We are invited daily to slip into the garments He provided, taking on His character, disposition, attitude, and His righteousness. True humility is seeing ourselves as the Father sees us. We are the righteous of God in Christ. Yes, there are the human frailties and wounds, but the Father is always speaking to our potential; which beckons us to become more like Him!
The scripture in Romans implies putting away selfishness, the more room we make for God in our lives the more we will be imitators of Him. When we choose to step aside and esteem others better than ourselves, we can say, "It is no longer I that lives, but Christ who lives in me." (Galatians 2:20) As He is made larger on the inside of us, love and humility become more evident. When we choose to love in the most difficult of circumstances, it protects us from the circumstances getting on the inside of us. Pride wants to protect itself, humility allows for God's protection!
Jesus is humility; and being full of grace and truth He was able to overlook all that came against Him; He walked in such a way that it could not touch Him. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up." (James 4:6-7, 10)
How do we emulate His love and humility? When we choose to fix our eyes on Him, worship and adore Him, we become more and more like Him. Ancient rabbis would say a true worshiper of God was putting on the cloak of the Shekinah. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 2:18)
Tweet this! Jesus is the gift of humility and so much more!
Jesus is the gift of humility and so much more! He made Himself of no reputation so that we might have the greatest reputation of all....sons and daughters of the most High God! Let us rejoice this season in The King of all Glory, who reigns in us, through us. Emmanuel, God with us!
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