The worldly perspective about winning is clear. We measure winning by what we accumulate. Fame. Money. Followers. Our success is measured by the physical treasures we put in our storage sheds.
On the other hand, the Biblical view of winning is not about what we can accumulate but who we are. Character. We win life by being, not by getting. True victory is about learning to encounter our trials with character.
Only by taking this view of success can we celebrate struggle. Like ore refined by pressure, we become who we are by facing our trials with courage and a proper perspective. Coal is turned into diamonds by the stress put upon it. And the same is true for us.
If we take the earthly view of success, it makes sense to avoid pain as a priority. What accumulation is there in suffering? What tangible prize do we get from our sorrow? In a strictly practical sense, our suffering has no market value. It is a setback. Endurance is an obstacle to be diminished rather than an opportunity to grow.
But in God’s economy, suffering is a path. Trials are a testing ground, an arena to develop and exercise our character.
James tells us to “consider it joy” when we encounter trials because winning requires a test. James presents life as a championship match. An opportunity to overcome self-seeking and choose instead to walk with the Lord. To endure and persevere and overcome when we encounter trials.
We are ore being refined into gold. We are not pirates gathering treasure. We are people becoming treasure. Pursuing the character and perspective of God. The opportunity presented is for us to become complete, to be all God created us to be. Material wealth ends up in a landfill, but spiritual wealth is a gold that endures.