So while I was knitting today I have been pondering some things.
The word perseverance (or steadfastness as some translations have it) implies that there are obstacles or difficulties in the way of a goal. Obstacles that we did not choose. If we had planned the path, it would be smooth and easy. But then we wouldn’t need perseverance.
Perseverance points to the idea that we are standing firm in a course of action. What action does James want us to persevere in? He wants us to persevere in our faith. He wants us to persevere in our attitude toward the testing. It isn’t just about putting our head down and making it through the trial, but about the trial strengthening our faith because we turn to Jesus to help us through it.
And when we do that and perseverance finishes it’s work in our lives, we will be “mature and complete” or “perfect and complete.” The Greek word that is translated mature or perfect is teleios. Teleios, according to Strong’s, means “Brought to its end, finished; lacking nothing necessary to completeness; perfect of full grown, adult, of full age, mature.” It is the same word used in Matthew 5:48 where Jesus says, “Be perfect (teleios) as your heavenly Father is pefect (teleios). So the maturity and perfection that James says perseverance leads to, is the same thing that Jesus tells us to be.
I was trying to think of examples of perseverance and how it led to maturity. The best current example that I could find was Tyler Trent. Tyler Trent’s story has been all over since October when Purdue beat Ohio State and Tyler was feature on ESPN that day. He died recently. As I was reading about him, I saw this quote:
“A year ago, I prayed I’d have the opportunity to share my story. And now that’s coming true.” (Tyler Trent)
He prayed to be used in the midst of his trial. He persevered with joy, and God answered his prayer. You can check out his story here: Longing for the King and here: Doyle. I couldn’t find the one video I watched where he talks about how at the beginning he wasn’t following God closely, but from these links about the end, you can see he is longing for his King. His perseverance in joy and faith despite his difficulties is what led to his being an inspiration, to his maturity and completeness, to his teleios.
I want the same to be true of me. I want to persevere in faith and in joy and in grace so that at the end, I can truly long for my King with no regrets. And that others will see Christ because of my attitude in the face of trials, because of my perseverance.
May you count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And perseverance, when it has finished its work will lead to your maturity, your perfection, your completion, your teleios, and you will not lack anything.