James 1:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 1:4, NIV: "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

James 1:4, ESV: "And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

James 1:4, KJV: "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

James 1:4, NASB: "And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

James 1:4, NLT: "So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."

James 1:4, CSB: "And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing."

What does James 1:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Verses 2, 3, and 4 are all part of the same crucial idea. James has instructed Christians to "account" for hardships as joy, because such moments grow our faith. Even when we're heartbroken over what has happened, we can trust God to use it to make us stronger. Why would God want us to label as "joyful" those terrible moments? Because trials test our faith. When we keep trusting God through the trials, our faith in Him grows. And, from God's perspective, our growing faith in Him is far more important than not experiencing hard things.

In fact, this verse says that perfection—complete maturity—is found only in perfect faith in God. More specifically, James uses the concept of endurance—steadfastness or perseverance—to describe the ability to trust God more and more. As a runner gains endurance by suffering through another mile, Christians also gain the ability to trust God through trials. Each experience grants us a deeper, stronger level of trust in Him. In all areas of life, growth only comes through overcoming difficulty. Spirituality is no different.

James writes that we shouldn't make the point of our lives an all-out effort to avoid trials. Instead, we should make the most of them by letting "endurance"—trusting God through another trial—create the result in us that it always does. Namely, more maturity, and more trust in God. In fact, James goes so far as to say that the one who can trust God without stopping, no matter how terrible the trial, will have arrived at perfection, complete maturity.

None of us is there, yet, but every believer in Jesus is on the way. We just need more trials to keep us growing in that direction.