The following article comes from Justified by Works: A Study of the Letter from James (available here).
Thoughts from James 1:4
But let patience have its work finished
Patience doesn’t come all at once. I’m reminded of a comic strip I saw once that shows a man with his teeth gritted, his forehead crinkled, and his eyes tightly shut as he says the words, “Lord, give me patience, and I need it right now!” Patience is like a human—it starts off small, and it takes care and nurturing to make it grow.
The gist of what James is saying here is that we are to continue to endure temptation so that our patience can grow to the level of Job—and then to the level of Christ! This is a true test of your faith in God. Can you rely on Him so completely through your trials that nothing worries you anymore? That is perfect patience—complete patience.
The word perfect means mature, complete, or finished. We’re supposed to let our patience get to a complete state. And we do this…
So that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.
We need to let our patience grow so that we can grow. The person who has patiently endured through trials and temptations has grown to a state of maturity. Simply put, when our patience becomes complete, we become complete. When our patience has reached a state of perfection, so have we! Christians often wonder what they can do to be more like Christ—here is the answer!
The word entire means a state of complete wholeness. There is nothing missing. In fact, James stresses this point by saying entire, lacking nothing. When you have built up this amazing level of godly patience and endurance when surrounded by trials and temptations, you have reached a state of maturity and wholeness that few people ever enjoy.
It is highly likely that you know someone who fits this description. No matter what comes their way, they are calm and resilient, always showing complete trust in God. They’ve got it all together. I’d be willing to guess that they weren’t always that way. It took going through some difficult times to teach them obedience and submission to God. The Scriptures say the same thing about Jesus.
Even though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things that He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:8).
Jesus Himself had to endure suffering so that He could be perfect and entire, lacking nothing. And Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything that He wasn’t willing to do Himself.
It is not easy at first, but the more you work at it, the easier it becomes. Where are you at in the process?