16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
James is finishing a section of Scripture that started at verse two (of chapter 1). He starts by completing and transitioning his thought from verse fifteen: temptation does not come from God. “Don’t be deceived,” James writes. He doesn’t want to leave us in the gloom of what has preceded. Temptation to sin doesn’t come from God, but instead, “every good and perfect gift” comes from Him. James adds a beautiful qualifier to our Lord: He “does not change like shifting shadows”. Sin lurks in the shadows waiting to pounce on us but God is doesn’t have to hide or be deceptive. Numbers 23:19 reminds us, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”
No, every good and perfect gift is from our loving heavenly Father. Sometimes these “gifts” do not feel like “gifts” at the time. Remember, in this chapter (so far) James has been talking about the testing of our faith. Testing doesn’t feel good but its results are infinitely better than if God had left us alone. In this regard, part of these good gifts includes those things that God does because of His good motives. He is the source of the good in our lives. With this in mind, even the suffering is for good. Paul writes in Philippians 1:29, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.”
God isn’t the source of evil and death. He is source of good and life. Instead of giving us what we deserved because of our own evil, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” The Apostle John also addressed this in the prologue to the Gospel bearing his name, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13). As Luke wrote (quoting Paul) in Acts 17:28, “…in him we live and move and have our being.”
So live, move, and have your being in the Father of the good in our lives. Even in the middle of trials, tribulations, or frustrations, He’s still God. He is still “Mighty to Save” and so we do not have to be deceived into believing anything else. He has given us a great gift of hope in knowing He is good and does good things for His kids.