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Patient and Perfect: James 1:4

Previous verse: Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

God puts a lot of emphasis on patience, probably because it's something that does NOT come easily. We're called to be patient and still, to wait on the Lord, to show the spiritual fruit of long-suffering in our lives, but I think for many people, and especially for myself, it's a virtue that has to be learned/earned. James tells us that trials bring out patience in us, that they give our endurance "a chance to grow" (NLT) and equip us to be more patient as Christians and people.

Patient: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain; not hasty or impetuous; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty or adversity; able or willing to bear.

Calmly~ To me, this means being at peace in the storm. Trusting God even in the trials, never doubting Him, and never losing myself to anxieties and fears.

Without Complaint~ There are a lot of biblical figures, even some of the most heroic ones, that spent a lot of time questioning God, asking "Why me?", and filing their complaints to the Creator. Part of patiently enduring a trial is accepting it without complaint, knowing that God sees the bigger picture⁠—and besides, is God.

Forbearance~ "A refraining from the enforcement of something that is due" (as in a debt, obligation, or right). I need to recognize that God doesn't owe me a smooth road, that I'm not entitled to a trouble-free life, so I won't demand anything of Him, and instead I'll just take what I'm given.

Not Hasty~ God's timing is better than mine. I'll just wait on Him.

Steadfast~ Anchored in surety that God will get me through.

Willing~ I must humbly submit to God's will over mine. "Here I am, Lord. Do what you know is best, and I will bear it."

So patience is important. It's a Christian virtue, a fruit of the Spirit, and when we let patience do its "perfect work" in us, God can use it to do great things in our souls. James says that we may be "perfect and entire, wanting nothing". That word⁠—perfect. "Entirely without fault or defect; satisfying all requirements, faithfully reproducing the original". That's the work that trials can do, that God can do through them: cleansing me of my faults and defects until I can satisfy all of God's requirements, until I can be a mirror-reflection of the original, of Christ. James also says I can be entire⁠—"whole; having no part or element left out"⁠—made complete, totally, by the work God does in me, the work He brings about in me through the trying of my faith.

One more thought, before I go: the KJV says we will be "wanting nothing", which the NLT translates as "needing nothing". True enough, "needing nothing" is the literal idea the KJV is getting at in this verse, but it struck me that the principle is true for both needing and wanting as we know it today. By enduring trials I will become more perfect and entire, SUFFICIENT in that I won't need anything, but CONTENT, in that I won't want it. Praise the Lord!

Works Cited

Mish, Frederick C. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. 9th ed., Merriam-Webster Inc., 1983.

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