What a crazy two weeks it has been! I am relieved to get back into my blogging routine. Today, we’re back in James. This is part 9, and today we are examining James 1:16-18:
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 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. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
Here it is: “Every gift that God sends is good. There is nothing which comes from God which is not good.” (Barclay)
Let’s remind ourselves of the context of this verse. We’ve been talking specifically about asking God for wisdom. In the midst of trial and temptation, there is a promise that God will GIVE us wisdom. However, as a warning, the previous two verses in James 1:13-15 reminded us that temptation is NOT from God. When we ask, we need to believe that God will answer, but also be weary of not falsely attributing temptation to God. James 1:13-15 reminds us that God tempts no one; that in fact, temptation is not from the Lord. And, He promises to deliver us from it (Matthew 6:13). Satan’s “gift” is temptation (Matthew 4:3, 1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:11).
Now, in contrast, we are being reminded that all gifts from God are good. “There is nothing which comes from God which is not good.” That’s a strong statement. It is stressing the unchangeableness of God. He is good and so are His gifts. This does not and cannot change. Remember, just because we ask for wisdom, it does not mean it will come packaged in a shiny box. It may come in the form of trial, but it is still a good gift. That brings a comfort and a constancy that I desire.
In a world of uncertainty and variables (creation), God (Creator) is reminding us that both He and His word of truth (the gospel) are certain. He does not change. His gifts are ALWAYS good.
Conversely, think about shadows. They’re ever-changing based on movement of either the object or the light source. They’re sometimes symbolic of darkness (“lurking in the shadows”), and are unpredictable and shifting. And then, think about God—the more I know Him and the more I study Him, the more I see His unchangeable nature and the reliability of the gospel.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
And indulge me for a second. Look at these verses THROUGHOUT the Old and New Testaments. See any recurring themes?
“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.’” (Exodus 34:6)
“The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression.” (Numbers 14:18a)
“But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.” (Nehemiah 9:17)
“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15)
“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8)
“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalm 145:8)
“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” (Joel 2:13)
“I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2)
“The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Nahum 1:3)
“Or do you presume on he riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Bible scholars date Exodus and Numbers as far back as sometime between 1446-1260 B.C. 2 Peter was written in the mid 60′s A.D. Each of these verses about God was written over a span of approximately fifteen hundred years, reaffirming the unchangeable nature of God. And before Exodus and Numbers and the beginning of the Word, God was (John 1:1-3). And today, God still is.
So what does God’s unchangeable character mean for me practically TODAY?
It means on the roller coaster of life, I have a sure, tried and true seat belt. His unchangeableness is my truth North. He is my steady Rock.
“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)
Every gift (financial crisis and financial blessing, infertility and babies, health and illness, marital bliss and marital conflict, have or have not, well fed and hungry, friends and adversaries, broken cars and unexpected bills, job losses and job promotions) is good. He uses all of it for good. We can’t always see the good initially, but He does. He knows. He blesses us because He loves us and He gives us trials because He loves us. Remember, “count it pure joy when you meet trials” (James 1:2-4). He never leaves us as He finds us. He rips out what has to go. And He uses circumstances to do it. He’s constant, He’s steady, He’s unchangeable, and He’s made us in His image and is transforming us into HIs likeness and taking us from glory to glory!
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
I’m praying for you. And I’m praying for myself. Praying that resting in the unchangeableness of God today will bring you GREAT joy and great peace in whatever you are facing. The same God that “was” is the same God that “is.” Yesterday, today, and forever.