Biblical Eyesight Emerging Forefront
Recently I decided focus on reading the book of James. Usually when I read of book of this length I typically finish it within a day or so. This time I decided to go through it a passage at a time, and focus on how what he is saying can be applied to my life. So fare I am about half way through chapter one. This might take a while, but it will be beneficial for my spiritual life. In verses three and four I encountered a word called steadfastness. It caught my eye because James seems to think this word is extremely important, and he even says having this will make you perfect. So what is this word all about? We need to look at the basic definition, see what it brings, and find out where it comes from.
The Greek word for steadfastness in this verse is ύπομονή. According to BAGD it means the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty.1 The idea of standing firm and being unwavering comes to mind. It is more than just taking it; it is standing tall during tough times. 2 The KJV uses the word patience, which I think is inadequate because being patient can just be merely waiting without showing that you are not standing firm and ignores the fact that suffering is involved. The NIV uses the word perseverance which brings out the idea of suffering and holding on. The NLT, HCSB, and NASB use the word endurance. When you endure something you keep going no matter how tough the pain is. I think perseverance and endurance together shows us what ύπομονή means. Being steadfast fully brings out the meaning of this word. Not only do we have to endure, we also have to stand firm. This word is used in two other places in the New Testament. These two instances in particular bring out the true meaning of this word. In Luke 21, Jesus tells His disciples that suffering is coming to the church, and they have to be ready for it. He concludes in verse 19 saying:
By your endurance you will gain your lives. ESV
In order to have steadfastness, suffering has to be a part of it. In Romans 5, Paul talks about the results of having steadfastness through suffering.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 ESV
Steadfastness brings us closer to Christ, and allows us to become more like Him. We can put all of these things together by saying: steadfastness is the result of a Christian standing firm in the face of difficulty with the result of growing closer to God and being more like Christ.
What Are the Results of Steadfastness?
When we endure trials there is a reward for it. The results are usually not in the form of monetary gain or improved status. The primary result is spiritual maturity. We begin to appreciate what we have more and examine all of the ways God has blessed us. If we allow hard times to teach us; we will grow closer to God. James said this a few verses earlier:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 ESV
James writes this in the context of suffering. If you do not know how to deal with a situation ask God for His wisdom. God wants us to come to Him when we need help. If you do not know how to stand firm ask God for help. Jesus did not leave us on our own; He sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us. He even called Him the helper in John, but He will not help us unless we ask. It is the asking for help that helps us grow closer to Him. God grows us when we admit we are weak and need Him. Asking for wisdom grows us and allows us to be steadfast.
When allow God to help us stand firm, we grow closer to Him. We ask Him for wisdom, and we are able to stand firm. Our strength comes from God.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Phililppians 4:13 NLT
All our strength comes from above, and we grow when we put our faith in Him. The reason why we need to stand firm during tough times is because we are tempted to sin. When times are tough, Satan sees an opportunity to get us. He walks around like a lion ready to destroy us. Often in the Bible he is called the destroyer. This is why we need Christ’s strength because we cannot endure the devils attacks on our own. I know for myself when times are tough, I am tempted to sin and do things that would regret later. It is in those times I need God more than ever.
To be steadfast means to stand firm during tough times. God calls us to use these times to depend on Him, and to deeper our relationship with Him. If we do, the reward is a crown of life that He promised to us.
1 A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (BDAG) by Bauer, Walter, Danker, Frederick William, University of Chicago Press | 2000
2 KJV – King James Version, NIV – New International Version, NLT – New Living Translation, HCSB – Holman Christian Standard Bible, NASB – New American Standard Bible