A rich business man and a prominent attorney were traveling around the world.
They saw many impressive sights, but agreed that something they saw in Korea was most impressive of all the world.
One morning as they walked along a country road in Korea, they saw a boy pulling a plow which was steered by an old man.
It amused the attorney so much that he insisted on taking a picture of the scene with his little pocket camera.
Later he showed the picture to a missionary in the next village, remarking about the peculiar sight of a plow being pulled by a boy with a driver.
"Yes," said the missionary, "it seems like a very strange way to plow a field, but I happen to know the boy and that old man well.
They are extremely poor.
However, when the little church was built here in the village, they wanted to contribute something.
They had no money.
They had not grain to spare and winter was coming, so they sold their ox and gave the money to the church building fund, and now, minus the valuable animal, they have to pull the plow themselves."
The men looked at each other for a moment, then the attorney said, "But what a stupendous sacrifice!
Why did you allow it?"
"They did not feel that way about it.
They regarded it as a great joy that they had an ox to give to the Lord's work."
As good of a gift that was to that church, I know of an even better gift to them and to us!
The apostle James speaks of this gift as well in our passage this morning
The last few verses were prohibitions to wrong thinking of YHWH, and now James moves to a correct view of our Father!
This is the contrast to vv. 13–16.
Since God does not send temptation, the implied question is, “What is it that God does send?”
James answers that God gives good gifts, as we have already seen in his gift of wisdom (1:5).
So how can we keep from falling into temptation?
The way is found in a close relationship with God.
This pattern will lead us to see clearly that every good and perfect gift is from above.
In contrast to the view that God sends evil, James points out here that whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above.
We can be assured that God always wills the best for us—not good things today and bad things tomorrow.
God’s character is always trustworthy and reliable—he never changes or casts shifting shadows.
He is not reluctant but often believers are not ready to receive or use God’s gifts in healthy ways.
What kind of gifts would you want from our Creator?
The Bible does list things God has given us:
the Kingdom (Luke 12:32);
peace (John 14:27);
wisdom (James 1:5) as we saw a month back!
repentance Ac 11:18.
Faith Eph 2:8; Php 1:29
Righteousness Ro 5:16, 17
Rest Mt 11:28; 2 Th 1:7
And that is just part of the list in only the New Testament!
Let’s look further into this source of good:
The source of this gift (v.17)
It came as a perfect gift from the Father, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift - vs. 17
James urges his readers to not “be deceived.” in the previous verse.
Apparently, as we saw weeks ago, some were making the mistake that some today make about God - blaming God for evil and evil desires.
This makes sense.
After all, this world’s a mess.
There’s war, genocide, child slavery, sexual slavery, starvation, earthquakes, tsunamis, and so forth.
How could a good God let these things happen?
As we know from Genesis, God created a perfect world with no death or pain.
He entrusted the care of it to Adam and Eve, with only one restriction: (Genesis 2:17).
They chose for themselves what was good and what was evil, instead of taking God’s Word for it.
This, of course, was catastrophic, as death would be the result.
Adam and Eve represented all of mankind, they were the federal headship for us today before YHWH and chose to rebel against YHWH, which brought on the curse of pain and death into God’s originally perfect creation.
Adam and Eve passed on to all mankind a sin nature--a desire toward sin (we are sinners by birth) which eventually leads to us acting in sin (we are sinners by choice); and the consequences of man’s sin is death.
In short, the problem of evil has never been God’s problem; it’s always been man’s problem.
James is saying here in our passage that God is the originator only of that which is good.
So God isn’t responsible for genocide, child slavery, starvation, earthquakes, etc. Evil things that occur in life are due to the curse on this world, the treachery of Satan; and/or the wrong choices of men.
Another deception about God’s goodness is that if God is good, then He would never sentence anyone to eternal condemnation.
The Bible clearly teaches if one does not come to God through faith in Christ, they will be condemned for all eternity.
How can this be?
Well, when one understands the goodness of God, you realize the answer.
If you want a God who is perfectly good, you must also want a God who is just and holy, which is the God the Bible speaks of.
Because of His perfect goodness, God allows those who reject Him to continue in condemnation, separated from Him for all eternity.
Remember that the condemnation man is under wasn’t God’s idea; but man’s choice.
Eternal condemnation isn’t something God forces on anyone; it’s what mankind has chosen for themselves.
If one’s eternally condemned, it’s because they’ve rejected a good God who’s provided a way for them to pass from death to life; and that Way is Jesus.
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life.
They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”
- John 5:24 (NLT)
God is not pleased with the effects of sin, pain, and death in the world.
“(God) does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men” - Lamentations 3:33
These evils of this world were brought into it as a result of human sin.
But God has a plan to make all things new, by removing sin, Satan, and sinful people from this world.
Which is why . . .
James speaks to us here about the goodness of God.
He refers to God as the “Father of lights.”
This is the only place in the Bible where God is called by such a title and seems to be used by James for the purpose of emphasizing God’s goodness.
James’ idea of Lights here “the Father of lights” Light is a biblical metaphor of good, of truth, of purity.
The first mention of light is in Genesis 1 while the first day was being created, YHWH creates light (v.
He then names darkness (cf.
Gen. 1:4–5) which shows His authority and control over both.
This cannot refer to the sun, since it is not spoke into being until day four.
Then through the rest of the scriptures, light is often associated with the Father and with the Christ (especially in John 1:4–5; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46).
Perhaps you’ve heard: “God is good, all the time; and all the time, God is good!”
This saying is one James would agree with.
But it’s important to see that when James says God is good, the goodness of YHWH transcends our common understanding of the word.
God is perfection - the ultimate definition of good.
There’s nothing comes close to God’s goodness, and nothing to which we can compare Him.
God is holy, set apart from all unrighteousness.
This is important to understand as we think about what James says about the goodness of God.
“with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" Dr. Utley, in his commentary points out that These terms reflect the usage for the waxing and waning of the heavenly bodies of light i.e. the moon.
But YHWH is not like them at all!
He is immutable (unchanging)!
This is not meant to imply that He is rigid or unsympathetic to human need, but that His nature, His character of love and compassion towards humankind does not change.
Believers can depend on His promises because His character is unchanging, immutable.
Therefore, if you are sitting here this morning asking, “What gift has God given me lately?