How to be Perfect!

Thoughts from James 1:4

But let patience have its work finished

Patience doesn’t come all at once.  I’m reminded of a comic strip I saw once that shows a man with his teeth gritted, his forehead crinkled, and his eyes tightly shut as he says the words, “Lord, give me patience, and I need it right now!”  Patience is like a human—it starts off small, and it takes care and nurturing to make it grow. 

The gist of what James is saying here is that we are to continue to endure temptation so that our patience can grow to the level of Job—and then to the level of Christ!  This is a true test of your faith in God.  Can you rely on Him so completely through your trials that nothing worries you anymore?  That is perfect patience—complete patience.

The word perfect means mature, complete, or finished.  We’re supposed to let our patience get to a complete state.  And we do this…

So that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.

We need to let our patience grow so that we can grow.  The person who has patiently endured through trials and temptations has grown to a state of maturity.  Simply put, when our patience becomes complete, we become complete.  When our patience has reached a state of perfection, so have we!  Christians often wonder what they can do to be more like Christ—here is the answer!

The word entire means a state of complete wholeness.  There is nothing missing.  In fact, James stresses this point by saying entire, lacking nothing.  When you have built up this amazing level of godly patience and endurance when surrounded by trials and temptations, you have reached a state of maturity and wholeness that few people ever enjoy. 

It is highly likely that you know someone who fits this description.  No matter what comes their way, they are calm and resilient, always showing complete trust in God.  They’ve got it all together.  I’d be willing to guess that they weren’t always that way.  It took going through some difficult times to teach them obedience and submission to God.  The Scriptures say the same thing about Jesus.

Even though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things that He suffered.  And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:8).

Jesus Himself had to endure suffering so that He could be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.  And Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything that He wasn’t willing to do Himself.

It is not easy at first, but the more you work at it, the easier it becomes.  Where are you at in the process? 

…Without Works is Dead

Most of my life, I’ve heard sermons on “faith without works is dead.”  In case you’re unaware, that’s found near the end of James chapter two.  One can have all the faith in the world, but if it is not exhibited in works, that faith is useless.  However, in a recent Bible class, I heard a man make the point that faith isn’t the only thing that “without works is dead.”  Needless to say, my interest was piqued.

LOVE without works is dead.

Imagine a man telling his wife “I love you,” but never showing it to her.  Is she going to believe it?  There was a song back in the 90’s called “More than Words.”  In it, the songwriter said, “more than words to show you feel that your love for me is real.  Then, you wouldn’t have to say that you love me, ’cause I’d already know.”

We can sing the song “Jesus Love Me,” and know that it is true, because Jesus showed His love for us by His works of living a perfect life, undergoing ridicule, and dying the ultimate shameful death on the cross.  My friends, THAT is love!

MERCY without works is dead.

Some people have actually said these words, “I’ll forgive you, but I won’t forget.”  Truly, this attitude means that forgiveness has not actually been given.  If we forgive someone, it means we no longer hold that thing against them–we no longer take it into account.  But many times, people claim to forgive others, but are not willing to do the works that prove it.  That kind of mercy is dead–of no value whatsoever.

And why is that important?  Because we are told in various places that we will be forgiven by God in the same way that we forgive others.  So, if we forgive in word only, but still hold those things against others, then we can expect God to still hold our sins against us.  See Matthew 6:12, 18:34-35, and James 2:13.  My friends, this is a matter of eternal importance!

REPENTANCE without works is dead.

John the baptizer called out the hypocritical Pharisees for pretending to be righteous.  In his indictment against them, he said the words, “bring forth fruits [works] appropriate for repentance” (Matthew 3:8).  The apostle Paul said it this way, “repent, and turn to God, and do works appropriate for repentance” (Acts 26:20).

We can tell people, “I’m sorry.”  But if you’ve been around people very long, you find that many times what they mean is, “I’m sorry you found out.”  You know that because the person shows no signs of change.  If you truly have repented, then you will be showing the works of repentance.  That includes working harder to not mess up in that area.

When we ask God for forgiveness, are we putting in the works necessary to prove we are truly sorry for what we have done?

May your life be blessed as your works match your words!