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                                               James 1:2-4

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have {its} perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

New American Standard Version 



How Important Is Patience To Our Growth?

Patience is a vital ingredient to achieving growth. Notice that James does not perceive patience as passive. It works! The fruit of its work can be either another virtue it is producing, or it is preserving itself, for that, too, is sometimes necessary. Patience is not merely a fixed determination to hold our place in the teeth of the wind, but to make actual progress in spite of it. A ship may ride out a strong wind with a snug anchor and strong chains, yet another may set the sails to take advantage of the wind to bring it closer to its destination. It is this latter attitude that James is bidding us have and use. Trials should produce growth. Just as we prune a shrub or tree to force it to grow into a more perfect form, so God does with us. William Barclay makes an excellent comment on this: "these tests or trials are not meant to make us fall, they are meant to make us soar. They are not meant to defeat us; they are meant to be defeated. They are not meant to make us weaker; they are meant to make us stronger. Therefore, we should not bemoan them; we should rejoice in them." Notice that trials should produce growth, rather than that they will produce it. Sometimes, we just do not learn the lesson; we fail; we regress; we sink into self-pity. This leads me to another lesson learned.

 

The fruit we produce depends on our outlook. This does not imply that anger and depression are not normal human emotions because they are. With any trial, you wonder why. You evaluate your actions, your mistakes, your sins. You repent, fast, and pray. You cry out to God with more emotion than you knew you possessed. If you are normal, you have moments of anger, perhaps even doubt. Here is where we can produce fruit or destroy it. With God's help, we must forcibly evict these carnal thoughts from our minds. We cannot allow seeds of doubt to germinate, and if they do, they cannot be allowed to grow. We must look forward and deal with the situation.

Paul writes, "We know for certain that He who raised the Lord Jesus from death shall also raise us with Jesus. We shall all stand together before Him. All this is indeed working out for your benefit, for as more grace is given to more and more people so will the thanksgiving to the glory of God be increased. This is the reason why we never lose heart. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain." (II Corinthians 4:14-17, Phillips)

So, it is good advice that we not resent our trials, bemoan our fate, or the state in which we find ourselves. As James says, "Count it all joy,"



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