From Joy to Perfection
What do you want your Christian walk to be like? In other words, what do you want God to do in your heart and life as you walk with and serve Him?
I want to reflect the heart of God. I’d like to grow in righteousness, peace, joy, and holiness. I’d like to have a servant’s heart, and move in the power of the Spirit, and more.
But, it seems the things I want to do, I don’t do, and the things I don’t want to do, I do. I’m hopeless without the Lord working through me.
Indeed, are we not all hopeless unless the Lord does the changing within us?
While studying faith, and considering the testing that is part of a faith walk, I bumped into a secret of growing in the Lord and into His likeness. It’s not new. The verses are common to anyone who has spent much time in church or in the Word, but it hit me in a new way.
The secret is in James 1:2-4. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
That’s what we desire, right? Would you like to be perfect, complete, and lacking nothing? That takes in righteousness, peace, joy, love, and all we desire.
But what were the conditions that lead to our goal?
Testing and trials? Hmmm. Counting it all joy when we go through the trials? Patience?
You’ve heard the saying, “I don’t know why God tests my patience, He knows I don’t have any.”?
What does patience have to do with anything anyway? And how do you “count it all joy” when experiencing trials that threaten destruction? How can we count it all joy if life is spiraling out of control?
Did you notice that James tells us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials”? If we fall into them, they were not part of our plans, and often beyond our capacity to handle them.
The only way to have joy in the midst of such is to realize that we don’t have to be in control, because we know the One who is sovereign over all. We lose our joy when our faith in Him wavers and we think we have to maintain control.
There are various reasons why we feel the need to control. We may think we have to have all the answers—or strength, or grace, or whatever is needed in the situation. We may be so overwhelmed or distracted by the situation that we don’t even think about God’s faithfulness to lead, guide, and provide when we depend on Him. Or, we may unconsciously feel that it’s too big for God to handle, or that we know what’s best.
I have never had the thought, “Oh, this tragedy is a gift from God to answer my prayer. He’s giving me what I’ve been asking for. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! I’m going through this so I will be perfect, complete, and won’t lack anything!”
We don’t tend to quickly rejoice when we encounter trials. We usually see His faithfulness more clearly when we look back on suffering, and there are times we never understand His purpose.
If we don’t have patience for things to straighten out, we tend to get in a dither trying to fix them. However, if we have faith that God loves us, has a plan for our lives, and wants the best for us, it gives us forbearance and expectancy to see how He will provide.
After all, He promised that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28), so we can rest in Him with confidence through the storm—if we love the Lord and are called by Him.
With that confidence, we can even rejoice in His faithfulness and can learn patience by focusing on Him and His desire to make us perfect, complete, and lacking nothing.
A book could be written about the fact that we won’t be perfect, complete or lacking nothing until glory because we were born with a sin nature. However, we are in Christ and He is in us. He is perfect, and lacks nothing.
As we draw from Jesus, it is ours too. We are complete in Him. Our problem is that we tend to rely on our own resources.
It’s through the trials that we are driven to Him. Therefore, let us rejoice.
When speaking of a trial when God seemed distant, Bob Mumford said, “I praised God with the praise dripping off my chin.” He chose praise when he did feel it.
If we choose to count it all joy when we are assailed with trials—even if joy drips off our chin—it will turn our hearts toward God. That will give us grace and strength to draw from Him. It will increase our confidence and faith as we realize that we aren’t alone in the trial.
Through Him we can walk victoriously. In Him and through Him, we can learn patience and be perfect, complete, and lacking in nothing. Because He is in us and we’re in Him, we can be more than we are.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13). And may you grow to be perfect, complete, and lacking in nothing.