For many years we’ve been taught that patience is a result, or the fruit, of being tried. It’s been taught as something that we should strive for in our quest to “become” holy. This never sat well in my spirit but I didn’t know why. I recently heard a teaching that finally addressed that check that I was feeling.
First, the idea of “becoming” holy ("noun") is rooted in the Law where it is something that we attain through our own efforts (behavior). “Becoming” implies something that occurs over the course of time. However, the Bible tells us that we were immediately sanctified or, in other words, “made” holy. We are holy. We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. This isn’t something we become over time. It’s who we are right now. It was in knowing this that caused those teachings about striving to become holy that did not sit well.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s take a fresh look at James 1:3. The KJV says “…the trying of your faith WORKETH patience.” Did you catch that? We employ, use, put to work patience during a trial. Patience is not the goal, end result or outcome of the trial…it is what we use during the trial.
Patience is being consistent, unwavering, and steadfast…regardless of what comes our way. Patience is also a behavior which is led by our soul (mind, will and emotions). Although our spirit (our "who") was immediately made right before God when we were born again, our soul is transformed through a process of renewing our mind to God's way of thinking and acting. The more we immerse ourselves in the Word, the more our soul is transformed which then means our behavior will also change. In this case, our behavior is that we will choose to employ patience. The Word gives us the substance or confidence to be patient. And, when we patiently hold on to and use our faith during a trial, it is that consistency and unwavering confidence that will bring the reward (Hebrews 10:35). What is that reward? The reward is all of the promises of God that we find in the Bible. It is everything that God already provided for us because of His grace.
Now look at James 1:4 “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” How can patience make us perfect, entire, and wanting nothing? When we employ or use patience to stay confident, unwavering and steadfast, it is that consistent faith that allows us to receive the promises. And receiving the promises is God’s perfect will for us. Faith is how we receive what grace provides. The purpose of patience is to help us obtain those promises.
One last point…If patience during a trial was the goal (as religion has taught us), how would that work with James 1:4? Patience would then be something we do to achieve that state of being perfect, entire and wanting nothing. But, that doesn’t line up with other parts of God’s Word that tells us that if we achieve it by our own works it wouldn’t be grace. Therefore, we wouldn’t be able to receive the blessings that grace provided. Do you see why that doesn't make sense? It's not my opinion. This is using the Bible to verify and confirm the Bible. It's so important that we verify that what is being taught lines up with the rest of the Bible and make sure that verses are not being taken out of context. Well meaning teachers have misinformed us and we've blindly followed their lead. We need to stay active participants and thoughtfully approach the Word.
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