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  • Writer's pictureTim Hemingway

Perfect Gifts


"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

The Apostle James, in verse 12, reminds his readers (us included) that we will, by God's sovereign decree, undergo Christian trials in this life. It's not bad news though, because he promises that if we persevere and stand the test, faithfully trusting God and not denying him, then we will be blessed because we will receive the crown of life at the end.

Then, in verse 13, anticipating that someone might argue back that God shouldn't expect us to endure under trials that he has sovereignly decreed for us, James teaches us that God does not tempt people to sin. The tests he brings are designed to refine us and make us grow in grace, but they are not temptations to sin. The devil tempts to sin, but God is good and all his ways are good.

Jumping to verse 16, James tells us not to be deceived, i.e. don't think that way about God, rather, verse 17, think this way about God: All the things that the Lord brings into your life are good for you. Everything is a gift! That sounds challenging. How, Lord, could cancer be a gift? How could Coronavirus be a gift? James is saying that all things, even cancer and coronavirus are gifts to his children if they are received by faith as good gifts from a good Heavenly Father who has designed them to work for us an 'eternal weight of glory' (2 Corinthians 4:17) - a 'crown of life'.

And to add weight to the idea that all the things God gives his children are good and perfect, James highlights the fact that the God who gives them, is the same God who made the most brilliant and exquisite things - the stars, the sun, the moon, the galaxies; all the heavenly lights! If he made such exquisite things then will he not make good things for you also? The answer is yes. He doesn't change! He's the same good God now as he was when made those perfect lights.

So how is it that we so often find things in our life not to be good gifts, but terrible setbacks? The answer is given by James in verses 14 & 15. It is not that the gift is bad, it is that our appreciation of it is bad. We fail, because of unbelief, to trust that this thing that seems bad is actually good - is actually working that weight of glory for us. We are tempted by our own evil desires to distrust our Heavenly Father for the circumstances of our lives. It's not a God problem, it's a sin problem.

But James undoubtedly intends us to understand that, faithfully trusting God for all the circumstances of our lives, will transform the hardest of hours into the sweetest of gifts, because they are working eternal crowns for us!



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