Every Good and Perfect Gift

“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

I sometimes think life is a little like being on a long road trip.  We encounter periods of smooth sailing punctuated with bumps and potholes.  We see exhilarating views of christmas-presentnature and then, just as we begin to relax, the highway starts to twist and turn.   We hold our breath, grip the wheel and then find ourselves stopped dead at a fork in the road where we’re faced with choices about the next leg of our journey. Will we be tempted to grumble and complain about where we find ourselves, deciding that God really hasn’t blessed us? Or will we recognize that everything that we have comes from Him, and that whatever He allows in our lives is a good and perfect gift?

When James wrote his letter to the churches, the believers in Jerusalem had been scattered throughout various countries in the Roman Empire because of persecution.  They were experiencing hardships and challenges, and he was writing to encourage them as they arrived at their own forks in the road. “Count if all joy” he wrote.  Because just as things were becoming difficult, something wonderful was being produced in them.   And he wanted them to see that God would provide all they needed to not only survive but to thrive.

So often we think God isn’t giving us anything good when we’re faced with temptations and trials.  From our perspective, the difficulties can seem unfair and the losses too great to be considered a gift. We wiggle and writhe our way through trials, and sometimes we even blame God for putting us through them!

But James tells them God isn’t motivated by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.  We are the ones who can choose to pick the route which leads to grumbling, complaining or lack of faith.  And if we do, it only gives way to more of the same. Or we can choose to view our difficulties with the eyes of faith, believing that God is good and a rewarder of those who seek Him with their whole hearts.

If we choose to persevere in faith, God’s gift to us is His work of goodness in our lives.  The word “good’ in this text means “brought to its end, finished and complete, in all understanding and goodness” and the word “perfect”  in this text means “awakened for good, excelling in any respect, distinguished”.  Our Father never changes, never casts shadows and only desires to give us good and perfect gifts.  After all, as James tell us in verse 18, “He chose to give us birth” so that we would live a new life, regenerated, fruitful and filled with love.

So, sometimes God chooses to take away the things we think are good and opts to give us something better in their place.  At the end of the Civil War, someone found the following folded in the pocket of a Confederate Soldier:

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey
I asked for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, then I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing I asked for, but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among men, most richly blessed.

Every good and perfect gift.

For 2013 Newport Mesa Church Women’s  Fall GIFT Series

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