Two weeks after Christmas, I excitedly ripped open a letter from my mom and chuckled when I found a neatly handwritten thank-you note inside. She had always reminded me about the importance of good manners, and it felt like her note was a genuine thank-you as well as a subtle reminder to send my own Christmas notes. Point taken, I tucked away her letter and sat down to start writing a few thank-you’s.
My mom’s note was a good reminder to celebrate good gifts. And James tells us that whatever is good and perfect ultimately comes from God (v. 17).
Recognizing blessings and expressing gratitude is especially vital when we’re in the midst of trial and temptation; in other words, when it’s most difficult. The Jewish believers during James’ time were likely facing this kind of discouragement. At times, it’s possible that they even questioned God’s goodness. Were these trials and temptations from His hand?
But James gently reminds us that not only does God never tempt us to do wrong (1:13), He never gives us a bad or evil gift. The suffering of this world is a result of our brokenness, of the imperfect world, and of the deceiver Satan.
God is the source of all good things. He is not like a shifting shadow; He is constant and faithful (v. 17). Let’s not allow anything to persuade us otherwise.
And as if to address those of us who are still not convinced, James proceeds to remind us of the greatest example of God’s good gifts to us: the offer of salvation and redemption (v. 18). This is God’s ultimate gift of grace to us.
“In this world, you will have trouble,” Jesus said. But do you know what He said next? “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). That is another good gift—the assurance that our Savior has overcome.
Today, let’s look out for the good and perfect gifts in our lives.
And perhaps a thank-you note to God wouldn’t be amiss.
—Karen Pimpo, USA
Questions for reflection
1. When are you most tempted to doubt God’s goodness?
2. What encouragement does this passage offer to those who face trials and temptations?
Hand-lettering by Sonya Lao
Karen Pimpo lives in Michigan, USA, where everybody complains about the weather but secretly loves it. When she was little, she wanted to be a librarian. Not much has changed. Besides literature, listening to and performing music is one of her greatest joys. She sings and writes to help untangle the knots in her head, and because telling stories helps us realize we are not alone. She endeavors to face the unknowns of life with the naive bravery of Bilbo Baggins: “I’m going on an adventure!”