Martin Luther was ambivalent about the book of James. He called it the “Gospel of straw” because it did not mention Jesus Christ or salvation by grace. However, the early church valued it enough to add it to the cannon, the list of books considered to be inspired, written by humans and God in a mysterious literary cooperation that revealed God.
James is a practical book. Right at the beginning James writes this:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4; NLT)
This passage can sound like a parent telling a kid to be patient because things will eventually change. But James is making a stronger statement. He is saying that endurance, sometimes translated as perseverance, in difficult times will make us “perfect and complete.” Some translations use the word “mature.” A translation of this concept that might resonate better with us would be “fully functional.”
Many of us have lived in families that could be described as dysfunctional. Those families create many trials for its members. But James is saying, if you hang on to your trust in God in the midst of trials, you will learn endurance, or perseverance, or patience, and learning these will move you from dysfunctional to fully functional.
For those who are facing trials, hang on. God can be at work, making you fully functional, even when things move slowly. And we at Life Connections would be happy to help you. We love to see people become fully functional.