Jas 1:2-4 2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James begins his letter by consoling believers about the difficulties they face. He explains that God uses those difficulties to make us stronger in faith, mature and pure. These are things to be happy about in spite of the hardships involved with attaining those qualities. He encourages the reader with a reason to have hope in the face of adversity. He lets the reader know that while yes, we are tested, that testing is a good thing and has good results. Steadfastness, perseverance, and patience – whichever word you prefer – are all good and noble qualities. Most importantly they are qualities that make it possible for the believer to endure hardships through the course of life and to be able to lay hold of the eternal life which they’ve hoped for all the while. As for me, I think “stubborn” might be just as good a word as “patience” or “perseverance” or “steadfastness.” I want to be stubborn for God.
By examining and comparing different versions of the Bible we were also led to study and gain a better understanding of the nature of temptation, trials, discipline, and tests. While these terms seem on the surface to be nearly equivalent, we learned by looking deeper into scripture and seeking a better understanding of both modern English and ancient Greek there are some very important lessons to be taken from the nuances. Satan is the father of lies. God does not lie. Satan tempts, God does not. Discernment is needed and is a gift from God to be discussed in the study of upcoming verses.
Another fine nuance found in the fourth verse is “let.” It is a very important word and one of two direct and specific instructions given in this paragraph. The first is “count.” They are both verbs, both direct, both commands. We must let (i.e. allow, not prevent) the stubbornness (e.g. steadfastness / perseverance / patience) take over. That’s when we are pure. In other words, James is saying we need to stubbornly let the Holy Spirit do its job and we will reap the reward of purity and joy.