James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:1-4 NASB
James is considered by most scholars to be the first letter written in the New Testament. James, the brother of Jesus, is writing to the Christian Jews that have been forced out of Israel and scattered throughout the Roman empire due to persecution. They have gone through great hardships and James is attempting to encourage them.
James does not identify himself as the brother of Jesus. Rather, he is a servant to Jesus whom he refers to as Lord and Christ. This is remarkable when we consider that in the gospels he isn’t counted as one of the followers or believers in Jesus. It’s not until after the Resurrection that Jesus reveals himself to James. James then becomes a leader of the new Jewish sect that would expand to the rest of mankind.
Had the circumstances of life been easy for the first believers the message of the Christian faith would have never been expanded to the rest of the world. God uses pressure, in this case persecution to cause growth and maturity for the individual believer and the Church as a whole.
Most of us do not celebrate hardships. Most of us complain to God and ask why we are going through hardships and ask for deliverance. We run away from difficulties rather than see the difficulty is meant for our maturity. But, spiritual, physical, mental and emotional maturity can only come through the hard challenges that face us in life. Sometimes it’s not possible to see the good in the present stresses, but often we see them once we look back at them.
As a former athlete I knew that I could not be a great athlete without putting stress on my body. In order to win the race I had to have endurance, strength, power and flexibility. All these require time, hard work and pain to reach full maturity. I ran the 400 meter race (in the late 60’s it was the 440 yard dash). This race is considered a long sprint. I could be the fastest guy on the track and loose the race because I didn’t have the endurance to hold the speed to the end of the race. I also needed enough flexibility not to pull a hamstring or calf. Endurance required hours of training. Strength required placing stress on the muscles (you have to tear small fibers of muscle to build muscle). Speed required going all out for short burst and total exhaustion. Workouts were hard and often left me with sore muscles that required ice and added warm-up time to complete the next workout. But the pain and hard work was worth the effort. Without the stress I’d never have become a mature athlete.
We can sit on the couch and watch the great gymnast, marathon runner, football or basketball player, or golfer (my present goal) and wish we could be like them, or we can get off the couch and begin to discipline ourselves to be a more mature version of our self in the area we wish. Wishing it isn’t enough to get us there.
As a personal fitness trainer I want to help you become what you have always desired to be. My desire is to help you become a more perfect you. I can instruct, motivate and direct you in the right direction but to get there you have to take the first step.