James 1:16-18 – Good Gifts

James 1:16-18

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

While temptations do not come from God, James reminds us that good things come from God.  Already he has spoken about how God answers the prayers of those who believe and how the persecuted will be rewarded with a crown of life.  God is the source of all good things though as He is our Heavenly Father who loves and cares about us.

Like James 1:9-11 earlier, this also echoes what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.  Matthew 7:11 says “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

James makes it clear that God is the source of good.  This is so simple that people have a hard time with it if that makes any sense.  Because God is the source of good things, people want to blame God when good things don’t happen.  It’s God’s fault when a storm happens and causes damage or kills people.  It’s God’s fault when people get sick.

But of course this logic is flawed.  God is not obligated to give anyone anything.  We are certainly not deserving of the many good things that He has given us already.  And so if something bad does happen, He is not the source of it even if He is capable of giving good things.

Let’s use a farfetched illustration to try to explain this idea.  Let’s say that I come into some money and one year for Christmas I decide to give everyone I know $500.  Most people would be appreciative of such a gift I’d like to think.

But what happens the following year if I decide not to give such gifts?  Does anyone have the right to come to me and complain that since I gave them $500 last year that they expect it this year?  Of course this would be an unfair expectation.  Even if I had the financial means to do so again, I am under no obligation to do so again.  By not giving the gift a second year I am not a mean spirited person nor does it mean that I delight in the suffering of other people who could make use of $500.  It’s mine to give as I choose and if I would choose to give $5000 to one person and none to another, it would certainly be within my right.

This is the way that people treat God however.  Because some people are spared from disaster or sickness, if they are not, then God is unfair or cruel.  God is wrong in the way that He chooses to share His good gifts.  We have no right to question how God distributes His gifts however just as no one else has any right to tell me how I should distribute my money.

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