The trials that society has faced these last couple of years has shaken each of us. We have lost more trust in the government, if that was even possible, in medicine, in news media, in social media, and even in each other. In trying times like these where we have been shaken to the core, many have faltered, many have become discouraged, and the next wave of pandemic very well may be one of mental health.
Christians too have been adversely affected during this time; many have even begun to question God. Has He been the one to bring all this about?
James, in a reaction to a similar concern he had to the Jewish Christian community scattered outside of Palestine, sensed a growing belief that somehow God Himself was responsible for bringing these evils, trials, and temptations.
He wrote his defense employing a play on words from a proverb common in Hellenistic writings, “every gift is good and every present perfect”. It is the English equivalent of, “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” which is intended to mean that one should not find a fault with something that has been given as a gift.
But understand, while using the play on words, it wasn’t exactly what he was trying to say. It was rather poetic, and intended to draw their attention, close enough to be picked up on its familiarity, but distinct enough with the shifting of the word order to draw attention to it.
His version was: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17
Both “good” and “perfect” invoke elements of sacrifice. “Good” meaning the best, most excellent gifts, and “perfect” meaning those gifts without any blemish. James was reminding us, and his initial audience, that God initiates only those things which are good, and good for us, in fact, the very best He has to offer.
This will never change (“with whom is no variableness”). It was true in James’ time, before James’ time, and it is true today. He never ceases to stop; He can’t stop. He is the father of lights; there is never a shadow on His day, and “neither shadow of turning”, the rotation of the earth, moon, and stars. He put them into place, into motion, but He Himself in never affected by them. His good work goes on and on, unceasingly and His love for us should never be in question.
God loves us and is not that God, the kind of God to use evil to get us what He wants us to do. Evil is responsible for evil, not God. God is only capable of that which is good and perfect and is the giver of those kinds of gifts.
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes Jr.
President/CEO of Source of Light International
August 16, 2021