So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. James 1:16-18
In James 1:13-15, we are reminded that God is never tempted to do wrong and never tempts anyone else to do wrong. God is not an evil Father. He never desires we fail or sin.
Here, in verses 16-18, James takes that idea even further and draws our minds to the goodness of our heavenly Father. God is perfectly good and all the good and perfect gifts we experience in this life come from Him.
I thought it was interesting that James takes a moment in the middle of this passage on troubles and temptations to remind us that God is the creator of all the heavenly lights: the sun, the stars, and the moon. Why does James think it’s important to make a connection here to God as the Creator of the heavenly lights?
Matthew Henry, in his commentary on this passage, addresses the comparison this way:
God is the Father of lights. The visible light of the sun and the heavenly bodies is from him. He said, Let there be light, and there was light. Thus God is at once represented as the Creator of the sun and in some respects compared to it.
The Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. What the sun is in nature, God is in grace, providence, and glory; aye, and infinitely more.
I remember boarding a flight on a trip with one of my children. The sky was dark and overcast, and the rain came down in sheets. I told my son to remember how bleak and dreary the day was right then and to wait until we rose above the clouds for a special treat.
Sure enough, the plane climbed higher and higher until we finally broke through to a blue sky and bright sunlight. He looked at me with a huge smile on his face and let out an impressed, “Wow!”
Was the bleak and dreary day being experienced on the ground due to something about the sun that had changed? No, of course not. It would be silly for us to judge the character of the sun by a storm that had rolled in.
It’s the same with God. Though troubles and temptations may roll in like storms, God’s character does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8; Numbers 23:19). Whether the skies over our lives are blue or clouded, His goodness and unfailing love follow us all our days (Psalm 23:6). He is faithfully at work in all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
Have you ever thought about the fact that our entire world is dependent on the character of the sun? Depending on where you live, you may experience different seasons, and we all experience hours of daylight and hours of night, but regardless of the season or whether it is day or night, the fact that the sun is there, unchanging, is what keeps our world thriving.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
In the Bible, God is referred to as light (1 John 1:5) and Jesus is called The Light of the World (John 8:12). Through the various seasons of our lives, the storms, and those times when night descends over our circumstances, the unchangeable goodness of God crowns the lives of His people just as the sun crowns the life of our planet.
Our Father in heaven is a faithful, loving Father, and He only ever desires that which will ultimately be for our good that we may grow in spiritual endurance. The good and perfect gifts He sends aren’t limited to the blue skies and clear days of our lives, but His gifts flow down to us even in the dark nights of our souls.
My family and I enjoy getting away to the lake for fishing, swimming, and boating. Being far from the city lights, you can see more stars than would ever be possible to count. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the dark of the night doesn’t obscure the light of the stars, but actually makes the light visible? It’s the haze of all our artificial lights that obscure all but the most brilliant of stars.
In a similar way, it is often the dark of our troubles and temptations that make the light of God visible. My family and I went through a very difficult trial when one of our children suffered a serious health crisis. It was as if night in all its inky blackness had descended upon us.
Initially, I felt disoriented. Where was God? Why was this happening?
The strange thing is, it was the darkness of that time that allowed me to see the light of God’s promises in a way I had never seen them before and not just to see them but to set my life by them.
Like stars in the night sky, His promises became the pinpricks of light guiding my ship through the deep waters. The artificial lights of this world had obscured from my view all but the most well-known and visible of God’s promises.
I knew His promises were there. I would often remark at their beauty, but I had never experienced a desperate need to be guided and held by their light. In that season of night, countless promises came into view I had never seen before and definitely never depended on for my very life.
As our child recovered and the morning light broke on the horizon, I was thankful the night was over, but I was also changed. Although the artificial lights of the world still threaten to obscure my need of the stars of God’s promises, I now know those promises in a personal way, and the temptation to trust in artificial lights has less hold on one who has experienced being held by the true Light of God’s Word.
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
Just in case we still hold some doubt of God’s goodness and love for us, James gives us our North Star…that star by which we set the direction of our thoughts and lives.
He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession
Who is the true word of God? It is Jesus, God’s only Son, whom He sent into the world to save the world because He loved us so much (John 1:1-4; John 3:16). Will the God who gave us His own Son that we would be birthed into a new life now seek to do us harm or work evil against us (Romans 8:32)?
We are His prized possession in Christ. Who works to destroy their prized possession? No one. On the contrary, a prized possession is cherished, it is protected, it is held close, and it is brought to perfection.
Because God can work all things for the good of those who love Him, even the troubles and temptations of life ultimately become good and perfect gifts in His hands.
Do not judge the sun for the storms that roll in. It is still there in all it’s goodness and glory sending the rays of blessing upon your life right through the heavy clouds and torrential rain. The unchangeable goodness of God and His steadfast love for us in Jesus hold us firm in our troubles and temptations.
And when night falls so that the artificial lights of this world so often leaned on for comfort and direction are obscured by inky blackness, it is only so that the true light of God’s promises may be visible. Look up. Grab hold of them. They will guide you to the morning.
Next week, I will be looking at James 1:19-20.