August 4, 2016
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father (v.17).
READ: James 1:12-18
Recently I’ve had to intervene in several blowups between my two sons. The result of such events inevitably leads to their losing the privilege of spending time with friends, loss of their allowances and more. They’re learning that the failure to work out their differences peaceably can be costly. Thankfully, I’ve also had opportunities to lavish generosity on both boys, to surprise them with a gift they would never have expected. I’m trying to teach them that both my correction and my generosity are gifts from me to them. Both emerge from my love towards them and for them.
James says something similar about God’s way with us. “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father” (1:17). In other words, if it’s good, then it comes from God. While James tells us that everything God gives is good and generous, I believe he’s saying something even more profound. With these words, he reveals that every kind of generosity we could ever encounter (every beautiful sunset, act of friendship, encounter with grace or loving correction) can be traced back to God.
For James, then, the question isn’t whether we’ll encounter God, but whether or not we’ll recognise Him whenever we receive the many gifts that pass through His loving hands to us. This is one of the reasons James encourages us not to “be misled” (v.16), because God is the source of every good gift; and this gift-giving One can be trusted to always operate with generosity towards us—His “prized possession” (v.18). He “never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (v.17). Every kind of gift comes from God— the gifts that we easily embrace as well as the gifts that we struggle to recognise at first glance.
365-day plan: Luke 11:33-54
Read 2 Cor. 9:10-15. What do we learn about God’s generosity from the farmer and the bread?
Where have you encountered generosity recently, and how can you trace it back to God? When have you received a gift from God that you didn’t initially recognise as a gift?