Every Good and Perfect Gift? (James 1:17)
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. —James 1:17
Once again, as you turn your attention to committing the word of God to heart and life, to planting God’s self-revelation deep in your essential affections where its presence will transform both who you are and how you are, protecting you from the urgency and expediency of sin and the convenience of doubt and disobedience, I must direct you to the context of these words in James 1:17. The exclamation, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change,” is not written in a vacuum, nor should we attempt to embrace it without its supporting context.
Your soul should feast especially on two verses in the surrounding paragraphs. They describe the same spiritual condition: steadfastness in the face of life’s trials. James 1:12 pronounces God’s gracious favor for those who remain steadfast in their commitment and devotion to Christ in the light of adversity. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” Verse 16 warns against Satan’s strategic deceptions that undermine steadfastness and resolve and faith. “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.”
These words frame what James means (and what the Holy Spirit in James means) by “every good gift and every perfect gift.” The life of faith in Christ is a test, a daily proving and improving of the quality of our dependence on the strength and power of God to complete His work in and through us for His glory and our eternal joy. James’ intent is, I believe, to put the experiences and occurrences of life in holy, eternal perspective so that we will understand both life processes and eventual outcomes as the working of one and the same God who uses what is painful and what is pleasurable to a single purpose: to magnify His glory in all creation so that all creation may join Him in His joy in being God.
James means for us to understand that painful experiences are as much a gift born in God’s integrity as pleasurable experiences are a gift born in His joy. God’s love for you is pure and honest! He does not work under cover of darkness to accomplish some nefarious scheme to gain your trust then hang you out to dry! There is one who works under such a guise, but he is not God. Do not be deceived. Do not think that God works for any purpose other than that which He has revealed in His Word and in His Son: the manifestation of His glory, His personal perfections, in such a way that all that is not God may encounter for themselves some measure of God’s joy in being God.
In conformity with the context we have to understand that “every good and every perfect gift” includes all the life experiences ordained for us by God, including the trials and adversity that afflict the soul. While the immediate cause for such adversity may be our own sin or the sins of others, for the believer committed in faith to Christ and God’s plan for their lives, God’s ultimate goal is glory and joy! Thinking that God is “out to get” you, or that all adversity is the pointless effort of the evil one, is to get God wrong.
God’s gifts, good and perfect, come in many shapes and sizes. Blessed is the believer who remains steadfast in faith and love, trusting the unchanging, honest love of God in Christ Jesus to place in our hands those gifts that accomplish His divine purpose regardless of our personal experience of those gifts. God is good. God is perfect. God is unchanging and straightforward. So, also, are His gifts that grace our lives. Do not be otherwise deceived. Remain steadfast. “Of his own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”
Name two gifts, one good and one perfect, that seem to have come directly from God’s hand to you.
Name two gifts, one good and one perfect, that you never thought came from God but now maybe you see them differently.
Take a minute and thank God for the full scope of His work in your life as He brings you unswervingly to the place of grace and blessing.