Every good thing

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:16-17 ESV)

James first cites this origin of good things to counter false notions that temptations are from God. He acknowledges that trials, testings, tribulations could be of godly origin, but to prove that God is not the author of evil desires in our hearts, makes this positive claim about the character of both good things and the character of God.

In doing so, he asserts two “true facts”:

1. if something is good, then it came from God

2. only good things come from God.

The first, alone, doesn’t eliminate the idea that our “bad” things come from God, but the second does.

Not many of us, upon looking around and surveying our condition, would find nothing negative, uncomfortable, or sinful. There are, of course, bad economies, crimes, bad jobs, hungry children, vexatious wives or husbands…because God is sovereign, all these circumstances are under his complete control. Yet in having control of them, God does not sin. Nor does he tempt us to sin.

The wicked consequence of pedestrian circumstances arises because of the response our wicked hearts make to them. God is not responsible for the produce of our heart.

Yet even when we are in such tribulation, do we have food to eat? It is from God. Do we enjoy the laughter of our children? It is from God. Do we take pleasure in sunshine, find joy in family, rejoice in good music? All from God. And, if we are willing to stretch our notions of “bad” and “good” circumstances, we can discern that even those that we consider unpleasant are “good” in the sense that they turn our hearts to the goodness of God, affirming the validity of our faith and confirming the rightness of God.

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