Everything God gives and allows is designed for your good. He gives wisdom to those who ask in faith (v. 5). He allows trials as a testing of your faith (vs. 3) in order to build endurance (v. 3) and spiritual maturity (v. 4). He promises eternal life to those who endure (v. 12). He never tempts anyone (v. 13) with sin. As Paul wrote to the Romans “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28 NASB). In our sermon today we shall see that God is the source and provider of all that is good and it is given to lead you to Him.
- Every Good and Perfect Gift (17). God uses trials to increase our faith, but that is not the only tool at His disposal. God gives good and perfect gifts and these gifts reveal His kindness and mercy. Article 13 “Stewardship” of The Baptist Faith and Message puts it this way: “God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him.” God’s gifts are good in that they are beneficial and helpful. They are perfect in that they are given through Jesus and meet our needs. Paul makes this point in Philippians 4:19, “my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
- God is the Source of Good. We learned in James 1:5 that God generously gives wisdom to all who ask in faith. We also learned in James 1:13 that God is not the source of evil and does not tempt anyone. In verse 17, we are told that everything that is good comes from God. James calls God “the Father of lights.” In describing God this way, James draws our attention to God’s Divine power as the Creator of all things. It is awe inspiring to consider that the same God who created the Sun, Moon, and stars, blesses us with “all that we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). The One who set the Sun in the sky cares about you. Psalm 8:3-4 says, “When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is man that you remember him?” Count your many blessings and remember that every one of them is provided by our loving, powerful God.
- God does not Change. James writes that the good gifts come from “the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James makes this point because—after referring to God as “the Father of lights”—he wants us to see a key difference between our perfectly holy God and the lights He has created. The sun and moon shine light from above and are subject to variation. But, God is the true light “and there is absolutely no darkness in Him” (1 John 1:5). God is consistent and does not change His truth with the whim of popular opinion. God does not take opinion polls to determine what He will do. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” God is purely good and incapable of sin. It is wonderful that God graciously gives us good gifts and it is even better when we understand that God will never change.
- The Greatest Gift of All (18). God does not arbitrarily give gifts. His gifts are good and perfect. Therefore, they are intentional and designed to lead us to Christ. Paul puts it this way in Romans 2:4, “do you despise the riches of his kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” God is rich in mercy and abounding in steadfast love. God’s kindness is extended so that you would repent.
- New Birth. James writes that God “gave us birth by the Word of Truth.” Jesus spoke of new birth when He met with Nicodemus: “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). When the Bible speaks of salvation as “new birth” (or “born again”), it is meant to help us understand spiritual regeneration. The Baptist Faith and Message defines regeneration as “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Firstfruits. James calls those “who have been born by the word of truth” a “kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” In the Old Testament, firstfruits referred to the first portion of the crops that were given to God (Ex 23:19, Lev 23:9-11, Deut 18:4). Giving the firstfruits to God signified submission to and worship of the Lord. It is a recognition that the whole harvest belonged to God. In verse 18, James uses the imagery of the firstfruits harvest to illustrate the truth that these first believers are a type of spiritual firstfruits harvest. James’ point is that they can find strength to endure trials because they are the first of a great spiritual harvest of souls.
God is good and He is good all the time! Everything God gives and allows is designed for our good. Knowing this helps us to count it all joy when we face various trials. Knowing this helps us to avoid thinking that God is unfair to us when we are facing difficult times.