Welcome to welling, for your spiritual well-being and your ministry overflowing. Vision for Trials. That’s the name of this episode, “A Vision for Trials.” Athletes don’t stretch prepare for the sake of stretch preparation. They prepare for the sake of running the race. Any athlete knows how to differentiate between ordinary stretches and extraordinary demands and stretches.
Life is not an ordinary stretch. And you have to take responsibility for the long stretch, the extraordinary stretch. Someone said, my doctor suggested yoga to reduce stress. And so I checked into chair yoga. You can do your stretches while seated on a chair. And the doctor said, I think that sounds too much like a stretch.
Vision for trials– what is vision? Vision communicates destination, somewhere you’re hoping to reach. That word “complete” in the text I’m going to read to you occurs so quickly after each other that it captures the extraordinary stretch, the long vision. It’s the Greek word from which we get the English word teleology. Teleology, looking at purposes and results rather than causes and processes.
It’s one of two commands in this passage of James chapter 1. Here is the command, “let endurance yield its complete work so that you may be complete and blameless, with no deficiency at all. Let endurance have its complete work.” Even while you’re enduring, you have to let endurance complete its work so that you can become complete and perfect with no deficiency at all. That’s unbelievable vision, not that you can fulfill this vision.
Indeed, it is simply a desire on your part and my part. But it’s God’s vision for us. Endurance itself– why you endure– it’s doing some work on me. And I should let God’s vision for me be completed. Endurance must be allowed to do its work, grow its work, finish its work. This word “teleios” from which we get “teleology,” I said earlier, is used by James more than any other writer, says one commentator.
It does not mean flawless. It does not mean errorless. It means completeness, maturity. That the perfect person has yielded and then reached the total intended end. That’s what God has for us as his vision. This is a stretch into the future. And the end of it– there is completeness, there is blameless, there is wholeness. In other words, there is a welling. You become whole. And you are well.
You are no longer a fraction or a fractured person, even though trials fracture you through its friction. You joyify them. You optimize them. And your endurance yields integrated wholeness. That’s what sin does. It keeps you from the possibility of wholeness. But what suffering does is to provide for the possibility of wholeness, to become mature, to become complete by becoming whole, not lacking anything, not deficient in anything.
Wow. That’s a vision, if you can consider it a vision. How would you like that? You won’t lack anything to meet trials. Now, we know in heaven we will not have that problem. But on the Earth, till the point that we have to leave this Earth, we’ll need endurance to be a joy counter, to joyfy life, to become mature and complete on the way to the eternal state with many, many temporary complete states, sort of just-in-time supply, just-in-time manufacturing of giving all that we need in order to have a welling, a completeness.
This is God’s vision, to shape us into maturity of personhood and character. Almost all the definitions of character can be found in the Lord Jesus. What may be called an inner quality Christ-likeness in virtues, in identity, in function. Yes. We are on the way to heaven where we will be pure, and free, and perfect. We are on the way to be proven free of sin, free of vice, free of falsehood and more.
But as long as we are on the Earth, even if you test positive for suffering for a while, you will be proven complete one day. And you will have a suffering negative test. How? By letting endurance and perseverance continue its work while you’re enduring being shaped by endurance.
This is really a powerful, great idea. Our faith, growth produces the completeness of faith one day when professional behavior will not be separated, when faith and works will be totally aligned, and will be complete and whole, not lacking anything. You remember, COVID testing provides an illustration. After testing positive, one may or may not be sick, experience symptoms– mild or severe.
But the test has confirmed you as positive, so you are isolated for a few days. And the test will one day show you to be negative, of being COVID free. You can still go without fever and without the symptoms for a while. You can move around. “You won’t test negative yet, but you’re feeling much better. And you’re less infectious.
For several days, weeks, even months, you may indeed test positive, what they call long COVID. But one day, you’ll be declared negative, perfect, and completely free, free of the virus. Right now, we are suffering positive and perfection negative. One day we’ll be suffering negative. And during this intermediate state, trials are like the virus.
The endurance allows us to know that we’re progressing in health. We’ve not had spiritual fever for a few days. We’re not infectious nor contagious in a wrong way. We have plenty of free tests available to test you as suffering positive. But one day, you will be free of suffering. You will be negative in terms of suffering. You’ll be positive in character, virtues, identity, and function.
That’s God’s vision for trials. In the middle of our chaos, and conflict, and confusion, you will be perfect and whole, lacking nothing. God’s divine vision as to where you’re going– as one commentator says– is to be all that God wants you to be. And if you want to be all that God wants you to be, you will endure. And you will let endurance shape you into who God wants you to be.