“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:4
Once upon a time, in what now seems like long ages past, I had gym membership. For some reason my kids became interested in “working-out” and I chose to signup with them—what was I thinking? I went to the gym early in the mornings, prior to my work day, before the herd of endless bodybuilders showed up; these are the folks who actually know what they’re doing. And while roaming through the midst of all these glorious machines, it became obvious I had no idea what I was doing. I must have looked somewhat pathetic. After a week of wandering, one of the trainers, watching my exploits, ventured my way offering help. It was an immediate love/hate relationship. Not long after his volunteering, I discovered this whole ‘working-out’ thing was much more difficult than originally anticipated.
My ‘personal trainer’ was great—I’m sure of it. He showed me how each machine worked, taught me the motions and movements of limbs and torso while instructing what muscles were effected by exertion. Most of all, and this is possibly where the hate developed, he shouted encouragements in cadences while pressing me to go beyond what I thought was humanly possible. It seemed he was attempting to get me to embrace this enduring, steadfastness of purpose, even when limbs and torso seemed to painfully disagree.
This is the meaning of ‘steadfastness’ in James 1, verse 4: “And let steadfastness have its full effect….” Many translations use ‘endurance’ for the meaning of the Greek¹ word. Thayer’s Lexicon adds the thought of ‘consistency’ while yet another Bible Commentary² suggests using the Greek root word as a foundation. That root word is the idea of someone remaining under discipline though the naturally tendency is to rebel—sort of like what I wanted to do against my ‘personal trainer.’ All-in-all, the idea of ‘steadfastness’ describes the quality of character that’s developed in an individual by not succumbing to trial of discipline.
To increase the value of that thought, James points out that ‘steadfastness’ is a choice as the author chooses to lead off with the word, ‘let’—“let steadfastness have its full effect.” That word is a present imperative command implying submission to endurance. It’s similar to the choice an athlete makes in complying with a trainer’s strengthening program. In other words, the person chooses to be uncomfortable for the sake of development and growth. There is no compulsion, only voluntary compliance.
Together the phrase, ‘let steadfastness’ denotes a duration of time for development. Vine’s Expository Dictionary adds that the phrase is translated ‘patient enduring.’ The idea is a surrender that’s done for the long-haul over a great period of time.
So the question now becomes, just how long does the time element of ‘steadfastness’ need to take place? When is it I no longer need to patiently endure the trial or disciplines of life? James even has an answer for that:
“…let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Hmm, ‘perfect and complete, lacking in nothing’! That could take awhile to accomplished. In fact, it takes a lifetime of ‘working-out.’ Exactly how much trial am I willing to endure? Before throwing up arms in surrender and exhaustion, it’s important to realize God has the training program that’s in perfect balance. Paul understood this to be true when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 10, verse 13 (reading from The Message Bible):
“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”
He is the perfect trainer understanding just how far to press and He knows when to stop. God alone has all the insights for speaking encouraging words or demanding cadences—which ever is needed. He’ll never let down or fail. God is committed to the training program for the duration of our stay on earth. He’s not discourage by failure or inadequacy. He’s a ‘personal trainer’ that never quits, nor pushes past limits. God’s one goal for us is Training for Endurance that “…steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
J. Robert Hanson
¹ Strong’s Concordance, G5281; hupomoné: a remaining behind, a patient enduring.