#8 – The Wisdom of Suffering [James 1:1-18]: Without Defects

In the amplified version of the bible, there are little [brackets] that give extra information about a specific word or topic. They help clarify the concepts in English from the original Greek. They are very helpful and indeed do [Amplify] the meanings to give greater understanding and insight.

Right in between the words fully developed and lacking nothing in the Amplified, we find the following words in brackets – [with no defects]. In the Greek, the words that translate to “fully developed” also mean without defects. Isn’t that fascinating? Being fully developed and lacking in nothing, also means, to have no defects. To be void of mistakes and weaknesses. To be made whole and perfect. Like a diamond – Flawless.

There was once a time that man was flawless. Perfect in every way. A time when he had complete unhindered fellowship with God. A time when he knew nothing of weakness or mistakes. Nothing of suffering or trial. Nothing of depression or fear, confusion or strife. Only perfection. Only complete wisdom and knowledge. Complete understanding and maturity. But, something happened that changed that. Sin came into the world and filled man with all kinds of defects. Chinks in the perfect chain. Holes in the solid armour. Cracks in the strong foundation. And since that day, we have been plagued with defects that hamper our unity with God and harmony with life.

Like a car that won’t start. Or a fridge that doesn’t get cold. Like a printer that prints skew. Or a computer that reads “not responding”… We are faced with our defects all the time. Those things in us that just don’t work. Like our tempers flaring up, or our emotions running wild. Like our hearts going astray, or our minds thinking disruptive thoughts. We are constantly faced with our flaws. Constantly frustrated with an under-performing piece of equipment….

But surely there is hope. For if we were once perfect, without any defects, then surely there is hope to be perfect again… Surely we do not have to endure these malfunctioning bodies forever! Surely our God has made a plan! A plan to ‘fix’ us… A plan to make us whole again. A plan to remove all flaws. A plan to make us complete and perfect, without defects.

And indeed He has. He has sent Jesus Christ to be a perfect offering. A substitute for our defects. A replacement for our lack and weaknesses. A perfect and completely whole person in whom we may find perfection. A redeemer in whom we may be made whole again. A saviour by whom we may again become – Flawless.

However, the question does beg: What does suffering have to do with becoming perfect again? I mean, isn’t suffering one of the outcomes of our defects? Didn’t it enter the world because we were defect of obedience? Defect of wholehearted love for God? Isn’t suffering in direct partnership with our sinful defective nature?

These are all good and valid questions. And so, next time we will look at this a bit more closely and try to understand how exactly suffering, something born of sin, can actually help remove defects and help make us whole again…

Father, thank you for your love for us and for your determination to make us whole again. You are such a faithful and loyal Father. Show us how you use suffering to help us change to look more like your perfect son, Jesus Christ, who is flawless, and without defects.

#6 – The Wisdom of Suffering [James 1:1-18]: Fully Developed

So, we have spent some time looking at different aspects of faith as related to suffering. The image of the human body posed as a wonderful example with which to understand faith practically. We saw that faith can be likened to muscle. It is the wielder of our spiritual strength, and the producer of force that causes motion for our spiritual bodies. In terms of suffering, we saw that just like a gym instructor increases the weights during a workout, the Lord increases the tension in our lives so that our spiritual muscles can grow with endurance and strength.

So what is the point of this all? Why do our spiritual muscles need to grow? James actually answers this question to some degree. He encourages the believers to allow endurance to be bolted into them during times of suffering so that they may be fully developed, and lacking in nothing. The NLT version says it like this: “…let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

That is crazy! To think that while we are still on the earth in a fallen human state, we can be perfect and complete. Is it possible? In some ways, I think we generally skimp over that piece and consider it as a figure of speech rather than an actual possibility. I mean, how can we possibly be perfect, just like God is, here on the Earth? The general consensus is that “It is impossible”….right?

Well, I dunno if it is or isn’t, but what I do know is that even Jesus was not perfect and complete, and needing nothing from birth. Lets consider this piece of scripture in Luke 2. He is explaining to Theopolis (the person he wrote the letter for) how Jesus grew as a child. After explaining how mature Jesus already was as a 12 year old boy he continues to say that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man.”

In other words, Jesus was not perfect and complete. He was still lacking wisdom and favour. Spiritually of course, he was sinless, perfect in every way. Just like His Father. But in human terms, (regarding his personality and his maturity) he needed to grow and develop. And that took time. It is why he only started his ministry at age 30. He needed to be fully developed first.

And it is the same with us. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be fully developed “human” beings, able to bare His image on the Earth just like Jesus did. It is what we were created for. And it is why He will go to any and every length to ensure that we become fully developed. All we have to do, is allow endurance (His eternal life) to work in us in the midst of suffering, and we too will eventually, be perfect  and complete,  and lacking in nothing

Lord, show us how suffering is designed to develop us into full human beings. Help us understand what it is all for and why being fully developed is so important to you. Give us a fresh revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and the example he is for us. Amen