This is the byproduct that James mentions in the very beginning of his letter. I don’t know about you but that sounds to me to be exactly what I want. I have had enough of my own immaturity, putting myself first and like a child running on rebellion and selfishness. Thinking about my needs and my wants is easy to do if you are living in isolation.
Porn has a way of turning us into insatiable consumers. We can literally gorge ourselves on porn and come back wanting more the next day or even the next hour. There is an emptiness inside and when we are trying to fill it up with sexual stuff no matter how many helpings we put on our plate it never seems like enough. We are never full. There is only a momentary satisfaction. It never really satisfies and like a laxative only produces more sh*t that passes right on through. Then it leaves us hungry for more.
And if we continue to go further down this path of sexual brokenness, we experience the wages of our sins. We feel further away from God…perhaps even abandoned…even though we are not and the Spirit of God remains in our body waiting for us to repent, do the 180, and head back to God.
Compare that with what God is telling us regarding becoming mature and complete, not lacking anything. The words James uses here are very important. First, he is literally saying that God wants us to be perfect. The word for perfect is the same word Jesus used in Matthew 5:48 where He said to the crowd and to us these words…
“Therefore, you are to be perfect,
as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
How many times have you been bashed over the head with those words? If a preacher likes using guilt to beat down the parishioners, this is the mother of all sledgehammers. I mean… who is perfect? Nobody hearing those words…and if they think they are perfect try to find a nice way to tell them they are not…and then duck.
However, the good news is that we are not being told to perfect ourselves, which would be impossible as we know too well. But we are to be made perfect by Him and the Spirit living inside of us.
The word “perfect” means something that is completely finished. It does not need anything else to be added to it or done to it.
This is what God wants for all of us and ultimately, He will be finished, and we will be perfect and complete not lacking anything. Yes, that is what we will be like in heaven, and we will remain that way forever, so our future is very bright indeed. However, God wants us to begin to experience more and more of that in the here and now.
How does that happen? We all know that growing and maturing as a believer and follower of Christ takes daily work and discipline which if we lack now, is always something on which we can improve. But James points out to us a very specific way we can see this happening in our lives. He says something that is unexpected and that seems counterintuitive. He tells us to…
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The way we become perfect and complete is a result of doing a very specific thing that we would not normally do unless we make it an act of our will. That specific thing is to face the trials of this life with an attitude of joy and thanksgiving, or “pure joy.”
That does not seem right, does it? We all want to bitch and moan about the trials and problems in our lives. We want to complain, sulk, grumble and then turn to porn to have it all go away for a while. However, we have learned it is only for a little while until the shame, guilt and fear come back and our situation has not gotten any better, in fact, it has gotten worse.
Notice that James does not say we are to FEEL pure joy about the trials we are facing. No, we are to make it an act of our will to look at the mess before us and by faith thank God for what is happening and by faith believe that this trial will make me stronger and more mature. Then I will be more complete moving along in the process of being made perfect.
I have tried this and have been doing this ever since my life of sin was exposed 16 years ago. I am so much more a better man than I was when I was rotting in the prison of my sexual brokenness. I made myself thank God that all this has happened NOT because the sin in and of itself was a good thing, but because I believed He could use it for the good if I would just keep on keeping on learning to do the right thing and living in a community of like-minded men.
We don’t thank God for the trial and the pain it has brought to a lot of people. We thank God that despite this suffering that I caused, God will use it to test my faith and make me a stronger man.
This is what God has for you as well. It will take time and the powerful persistence of never giving up. So, even if you have slipped and fallen, learn from it, confess it to God, confess it to your support team and keep moving forward. However, if you are still alone in this battle and trying to change yourself, good luck with that … it never worked for me!
True biblical sobriety…or purity…is found and solidified in community.
Are you still trying to handle this on your own…good luck…that never worked for me.