Growing up. Maturing spiritually. This is God’s will for all of us. 1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” That’s growing up.
That’s what I want to start to talk about with you in this second day of thirty devotions together. Like I said yesterday, the book of James is a manual on how to be mature. James gives us five marks of maturity. Let’s look at just one today.
#1. A mature person understands that God uses trials and troubles and sometimes even suffering to grow us. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.” Let’s break down this passage a bit.
“Consider it pure joy” = You can be joyful in the midst of trials because you know something moist people don’t. You know that God is growing you and you know that God is good and you know that God is working on your behalf. That’s what Romans 8:28-29 tells us “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Knowing who God is, that He has a plan and that God’s character can be trusted, that can bring you joy. And here’s just one more thought about joy in the midst of trials. James uses the word PURE before joy. That means its genuine joy, not manufactured joy. It’s authentic joy, not just a joy to put on a show. This kind of joy – pure joy – only comes from the Lord. This kind of joy only comes from being deeply connected to the Lord.
“whenever you face trials of many kinds” = There are many different kinds of trials. Health trials. Financial trials. Relationship trials. Character trials. Integrity trials. You can be joyful in all these different kind of trials, because you know.
“because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance” = The testing of your faith develops perseverance. This is so important. God knows us. He knows our tendency is to run. Pull a Jonah. When hard stuff comes our way, rather than face it, we want to bolt. It’s to painful to go through. To painful to face who we really are. To painful to change. So we run. God knows this about us. So he allows these trials to come into our lives to develop perseverance in us. Stick-to-it-iveness. We need perseverance and endurance. We need a “stay the course” mentality. All of us quit things to quickly. This should not be. Learn perseverance.
“perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.” = Trials come to teach us perseverance. Once perseverance is developed in us, God says we become mature and complete. Mature I get. We won’t mature until we learn perseverance. The word complete though is interesting. I think the word complete, at least in part, means we’ll never be whole as people until perseverance and endurance is developed in us. We’ll always be lacking something in our character and heart and soul. I want to be whole. The Lord wants this for all of us. When everything and maybe even when everybody is screaming at you to quit something. You want to quit. You’re done. You’re fed up. You’re at the end of your self. There’s no more “try” in you left. What do you do? You look to Jesus. You see His endurance and you take it some more.
That’s what Hebrews 12:2-3 says – “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy (there’s that word again) set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
So, let me ask you – how do you handle trials? This is the first test of spiritual maturity. What comes out of you when you get tested? It’s like a tube of tooth paste. When you squeeze it, do you know what comes out of the tube? Tooth paste. Pretty novel. When you get squeezed, what comes out of you?