Considering Consider


Recently, someone shared with me their least favorite verse in the Bible. “You therefore be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48.

James 1:2 used to be a hang up for me. “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,”. How can God possibly expect us to consider trails joyful?

In our modern vernacular, consider often means, “ to ponder, to bear in mind, to have an opinion, or make allowances for.” (www.dictionary.com) That usage is not very conclusive; it implies an either/or stance.

My sisters and I recently took each other to task, two on two, debating the color of our mom’s car.  Jennifer and Rachelle considered it gray, Kelsey and I considered it bronze or taupe. The battle escalated until we called our mom. We finally insisted that dad pull the car’s original paperwork to prove one side of the discussion. Kelsey and I won.

This brings consider into focus, regardless of how Rachelle and Jennifer considered the appearance of the car, there was a verifiable truth. Truthfully, if I meditate on my trials for very long, I will most certainly not conclude that they are joyful. But, maybe it doesn’t matter how long we ponder our trials. Maybe it isn’t a case of analyzing all the possible good that God may bring out of our pain.

The Greek word for consider, in James 1:2 is hégeomai, meaning, “I lead, I think.” Additionally, it can mean, “to lead, command, have authority over.” When you replace consider, in James 1:2, with the fuller definition, one way it reads is, “Have authority over all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds.” That’s a different perspective!

This broader explanation of James 1:2, leads us to 2 Corinthians 10:5b, another verse that I have long wondered how to obey, “…and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”. A captive is under the authority of his captor. Biblically, even in the midst of trials, we are the captors, we are in authority of our own joy.

Now on to the rest of James 1:3-4, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.”

Do you see the linkage back to my friend’s least favorite verse? James is telling us how to be perfect. Could it be that God will bring us to speechless awe at His never ending ability to reconcile the most polar opposites: trials and joy, perfection and pain?

For what it’s worth, let me offer you my personal paraphrase of the these two passages side by side: Brothers, take authority over your joy when you encounter various trials. Take captive under your authority all your thoughts and fears. It is an indisputable fact that when you remain obedient in the hardest situations you will become more perfect, more like your Heavenly Father. 

And the crowing conclusion: The fulfillment of this obedience, this increasing Christ-likeness, is God’s glory.

“Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

2 Corinthians 9:13-14

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6 thoughts on “Considering Consider

  1. What an excellent post. Thanks for drawing more truth out of these verses for me. I really love your paraphrase… “take captive under your authority all your thoughts and fears” – so empowering to read that. Such an active process. I like your elaboration on “consider” too, really clarifies that verse in James for me.
    Yes, may we keep growing more and more like Jesus through the trials we face, for God’s glory.

  2. Another really good post, Abby! I firmly believe we will achieve perfection relative to the degree we love God, and allow God to inhabit us. If He is our all and everything, we will be fully indwelled with His Spirit, and become like Him. That is a big IF however, as who among us can fully commit to Him? I would also point out that in this sermon, Jesus lists many things He would have us do in order to be perfect as God is perfect. Verse 48 also begins with “therefore”, which in my mind translates to “And if you can do all these things”, which, unfortunately no one I know can, you will be perfect.
    As for always being joyful, that too is a lofty goal; we are human beings, and we have emotions. When something bad happens we will react to it, but my contention is we should allow ourselves a time of sadness, anger, sorrow, etc., but if our eyes and hearts are set on God, we will move on, and do so with a joyful heart, for “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
    Sorry for the lengthy comment, Abby! But you should know not to “get me started”!

    Excellent post!

  3. Amen, Abby! I have taken issue with those verses as well, epecially in my current circumstances! It has been a year since Penn Stare fired me for my faith. I lived on my income tax refund, but that ran out two months ago. My only income is $600 from my ex-husband’s disability that goes to my son. My rent was past due for July, and it has been an extremely difficult trial!! But my church just came through and helped me pay it, and my August rent, too. What a blessing! However, it has been impossible for me to be joyful during this incredibly painful ordeal. I know God has a purpose for it. It’s just very difficult to see. Yet…. we walk by faith, not by sight.

    God bless you!
    Barb

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