Friday, November 22, 2013


What is perseverance? Do you have it? Why is it important in our spiritual life? Before we jump back into our Bible study, let's look at Webster's definition of perseverance.

the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult : continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition

So what does this have to do with our Christian lives, much less celebrating our trials like we talked about last week? Let's dig in to James 1:2-4 and find out more.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Last week we talked about counting it a blessing when you face trials because it is actually a recognition of God's grace and favor. So now, verse 3 and 4 are going to tell us WHY this is important.

3 | because (here is your reason why) 

        you - this refers to "my brothers" who James is addressing earlier

        know that - WHAT do we know?

    the testing of your faith develops perseverance

So what can we get from this so far? James is talking to his fellow Christians, and he has just told them to celebrate their trials, because the testing of faith develops perseverance. This means that he is obviously saying that these trials we are facing is a testing of our faith.

Now let's break it down. Use your resources we have been talking about and let's see what the Lexicon has to say about what "testing" actually means. dokímion : what is found approved (genuine) after testing, focusing on the inevitable results of this. So the genuineness of our faith is what is going to develop the perseverance.

What about faith? It comes from the word "pistis" which means :faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness. I love what the HELPS Words says about faith. It has completely changed my idea of what faith is. Look at this...

4102 pístis (from 3982/peithô, "persuade, be persuaded") – properly, persuasion (be persuaded, come to trust); faith.
Faith (4102/pistis) is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. In short, 4102/pistis ("faith") for the believer is "God's divine persuasion" – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it. The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers, i.e. the persuasion of His will. Faith (4102/pistis) is always received from God, and never generated by us. 
Doesn't that take off a lot of pressure? I tend to constantly worry if my faith is enough, do I have enough faith, am I trusting God enough, what am I doing not to have faith? All I have to do is receive what God is birthing in me as a yielded believer. Maybe this genuineness of faith this scripture is talking about is more about my willingness to accept the trials I am going through as God growing me and working in my life.

So what about perseverance? All this joy, acceptance, faith... it is about developing perseverance. We already talked about the Webster's definition of perseverance. Now let's look into the Greek word used in this verse.

5281 hypomonḗ (from 5259 /hypó, "under" and 3306 /ménō, "remain, endure") – properly, remaining under, endurance; steadfastness, especially as God enables the believer to "remain (endure) under" the challenges He allots in life.

Strong's also says this about perseverance: 1. steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the N. T. the characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings 2. a patient, steadfast waiting for; (others question this sense in the New Testament, and render the genitive by 'characterizing', 'in respect to' the return of Christ from heaven 3. a patient enduring, sustaining.

So what does all this mean? Here's what I get from this verse. It isn't about our successes and failures as Christians, but our genuineness in facing the trials in life and accepting that the results of what we are going through is going to build our ability to be steadfast, constant and build our endurance against sin as we patiently wait for the return of Christ. It's all part of the process.

Why is perseverance important? That is lined out in verse 4.

4 | Perseverance must finish its work 
     WHY?  So that you may be
  • mature
  • complete
  • not lacking anything
Let's look at each of these words in the Greek.

téleios (an adjective, derived from "consummated goal") – mature (consummated) from going through the necessary stages to reach the end-goal, i.e. developed into a consummating completion by fulfilling the necessary process (spiritual journey).
[This root (tel-) means "reaching the end (aim)." It is well-illustrated with the old pirate's telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength (capacity effectiveness).]
 holóklēros (from /hólos, "whole" and  /klḗros, "a lot, cast to better discern God's preferred-will") – properly, "all that is included (apportioned) through divine lot."   /holóklēros ("divinely-allotted wholeness") occurs twice in the NT.
The other verse is 1 Thes 5:23: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ"
leipó (earlier: I leave behind, abandon), (a) I am wanting, (b) mid: e.g. with gen: I come behind (in a race), am left behind in, fall short of (some standard), am wanting in.
What we get from these three words is that when we develop perseverance, we allow God to develop completion in the process of our spiritual journey (maturity); we become whole being able to better discern God's will (completeness); and we will not be left behind, wanting for anything, or falling short (not lacking anything).
WHAT PROMISES!! Doesn't that make the idea of trials seem insignificant if we focus on the end result? God has promised us that if we just take on the right mindset that our trials will build our faith and create an ability to persevere that will make us whole, better able to discern God's will and keep us from falling short or wanting anything more. Can we get into that mindset? Let's make that our challenge for the week.
I'd love to hear what you think of the study. What is God showing you? Do you want more step by step instructions on studying the verses, or would you prefer a little less detail? This study is for us to grow together as Christians. PLEASE share your insights as you dig into the Word. God made us a body for a reason, the more we share, the more we grow together in Him.
Next week we start to talk about the generosity of God. I can't wait to hear how God is working through your trials to create a new maturity and wholeness in Him!

1 comment:

  1. wow - what a new perspective on faith! So much pressure we put on ourselves to grow faith, to have enough faith, and it's actually another 'gift' that we just need to be open to receive as He walks us through the growth process that is our lives as His children - awesome!