I have been preaching on maturity, and yesterday I focused on the Book of James. Here is a skeleton outline of my lesson:
I. Count it all joy when you encounter various trials (James 1:2)
What trials? see 2:6-7; 5:1-6
Why consider them joy?
-There is a reward promised for those persecuted (see 1:12; also Matt. 5:11-12).
-Suffering is evidence of righteousness (see Matt. 5:12b; 10:22; John 15:18; 1 Peter 4:12-13).
But in addition to these points, there is another reason to consider them "pure joy" (TNIV)-
II. Trials develop endurance (James 1:3)
God uses our trials to produce character by refining our faith and that is cause for rejoicing (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Specifically, tested faith produces "steadfastness" (ESV), "patience" (NJKV), "patient endurance" (RSV), "perseverance" (TNIV). The ability to bear up under a heavy weight.
Compare to an athlete lifting weights to increase muscular endurance, or running sprints to increase cardiovascular endurance.
Consider the example of Job (James 5:10-11).
How does adversity develop endurance?
-By humbling us to rely on God and not ourselves (2 Cor. 12:8-10; Col. 1:11).
-By clarifying our hope, pointing us away from the temporal and toward the eternal (Rom. 5:2-5).
III. Endurance leads to maturity/completeness/perfection (James 1:4)
NKJV: "let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect."
God uses adversity to develop the endurance we need to complete the process of maturity.
Ultimately, our maturity or perfection is measured by the imitation of God in Christ (Matt. 5:48).