Wednesday, February 17, 2016
"Perseverance" is an interesting word. What I notice immediately is that it has the word, "severe", in the middle. This kind of puts me off. When I think about something "severe", I think of it as being dangerous or painful or strict in that disciplinarian sort of way. I want to run away from it, avoid it and hide. Who wants this kind of trouble? Not me.
But James, the Lord's brother says that if our faith is real, it will develop in us perseverance to withstand trials and temptations. I am a man of faith, therefore I must, in the spiritual scheme of my life, develop perseverance.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Is he nuts? Am I really supposed to consider it a pure joy? I have a problem with that. I want perseverance as part of my spiritual character, but is there not an easier way to develop it? Trials and temptation involve discipline, self denial and sometimes outright pain. These things are not joyful to me. They bring anguish and second thoughts.
If I have faith as I claim, why should this be? Why would I fear the development of perseverance in my life? My faith should lead me to visualize what I could be as opposed to what I am and so be willing to tolerate the severity of the moment in pursuit of perseverance which will last me a lifetime.
He also says,
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James makes the choice clear. If we learn perseverance with all its severity, we will receive a crown of life. Who does not want that? A little severity for awhile and then a crown of eternal life - is that not a joyful thing? It will also require some patience and long suffering, and since I am shopping for spiritual items today, I may as well get the 3-pack. It will cost me some severity, but it's worth the investment and it will also be better than the alternative.
James says that if we fail to develop perseverance, then we will have to deal with the consequences. If we fail to persevere against the trials and temptations in our lives, the result will be death. Is he talking about spiritual or physical death? I'm thinking maybe both.
I do not consider that a pure joy. Nope.
So Lord, Please teach me to persevere. Help me to get to the place where I can enjoy it. Renew me daily from the inside out. Walk in front of me so I can see and watch my back so I do not become a victim. Please help to finish the work You started all those years ago. Thanks much. I love You. My crown size is 8 by the way.
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.