Pure is defined as “not mixed or adulterated with any other substance”. Joy, “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”. Guess what we should consider pure joy?
James 1:2 says Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
When I first read this passage, it didn’t make sense at all. It’s especially not funny when one is reading it while experiencing a trial. But this opens our eyes beyond the current challenge at hand onto the good result that comes from testing.
Imagine a watch with a good design, good casing, a good mechanism. When it is put together, it can’t just be ready without going through testing. Testing will reveal if a spring was missing or a part was not attached properly or other adjustments that need to be made. Imagine seeing a watch that lacked a winder or the face because it did not go through testing. A person, as well, needs to go through testing for maturing and completion, so as not to lack anything.
Interestingly, the verse says “whenever”, not “if ever”. Trials are definitely part of the horizon. And we are to expect not just one trial but trials of many kinds (v2). Our faith needs to be tested to produce perseverance. Perseverance is defined as 1. “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success” or 2. “continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory”. This perseverance must be allowed to finish its work in us so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Rom 5:3-5 MSG says: There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
When (not if) the trials come, don’t quit! Instead, be purely joyful!