Why Patience is Important
In recent post we have discussed the fact that James 1:2 encourages us to "count it all joy...when you meet trials of various kinds", and the way to do that is only through Jesus. Joy can be had in trials of various kinds only through Christ. The reason we can be joyful in trials of various kinds is because the testing of our faith makes for genuine faith (1 Peter 1:6,7) and as James tells us in 1:3 "the testing of your faith produces steadfastness", which is patience.
The question now needs to be asked of James, why patience needs to be produced? Why is it necessary that patience is manufactured? James writes in 1:4, "And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
Before we jump to that answer, James writes, "let steadfastness have its full effect." In other words, let patience have its full effect. Often we are in a hurry to get out of trials, when what we need to learn is how to be patient in suffering. James encourages us in 5:7 - 12 and Paul in Romans 12:12-27 to be just that, patient in suffering. Why would James and Paul encourage us to learn this quality? Answer: patience has two "effects" or results. It is important to be patient in suffering so that patience can yield its full result in our life. What are those results?
The first result that steadfastness yields is perfection. What James means when he writes "perfect" is that we mature as Christians by going through the necessary stages to reach the end goal. That we develop as Christians into perfection by fulfilling the necessary process, trials being that process, just as gold has to go through the necessary process of refining. What is the end goal? Jesus helps us answer that question when he stated "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." The end goal is that we become "perfect" like our heavenly Father. Every trial we go through as Christians is purposed to develop our character in becoming like our heavenly Father.
The second result that steadfastness yields is completeness. Again, what James means by "complete" is that we be made whole, entire, full and not lacking in nothing. That we be made complete in that we are without blemish or defect, like gold which has to go through complete refinement to be made entirely pure and free from defects and blemishes.
We call this process sanctification. I do not agree that sanctification is a one and done occurrence. I believe that sanctification is the on going process to make us holy and set apart as our heavenly Father is holy and set apart. James seems to be implying that trials are a necessary stage in the sanctifying process. Even Paul, when writing the Thessalonians wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely", implying that they were not yet fully sanctified, that the process was not yet finished.
In conclusion then, God allows our faith be be tested to produce patience, in order to yield perfection and completion, so that we might not be "lacking in nothing." The more trials we go through, the more our faith is tested, the more patience is produced, the more God is perfecting us and the more we are being brought to completion. Trials then, are necessary and are tools God uses to make us more like Himself and set us apart for Himself. Therefore, we can be joyful in trials and we can embrace trials knowing that they are doing a good work in us. Be joyful in trials of various kinds.