“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (Jas 1:17–18)
In the midst of trials and temptations, it is hard to remember that God is our Father who gives all good gifts! In the midst of trial and temptation, suffering and persecution, our faith may waver. As the band Caedmon’s Call sings in their song “Shifting Sand,” “My faith is like shifting sand, changed by every wave.” Like a boat on the waves, our faith is up and down. At times, we feel like we are thriving, and other times, we feel like we are failing. The song goes on, “My faith is like shifting sand, so I stand on grace!” Our faith may shift, but God does not “change like the shifting shadows!” He remains the God of good gifts.
Every good gift comes from above, James says. That is the movement in our relationship with God: from God to us. In the incarnation, God gives Jesus to us in human flesh to preach his saving message. On the cross, Jesus gives up his life as a sacrifice for our sins. He gives himself to God for us. Because Christ has done this, the Father gives us new birth in baptism by giving us the Holy Spirit through the Word of truth. He gives us his body and blood in bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper as a forgiving gift. He gives us a new life so that even our Christian living is a gift from him!
The entire life of a Christian—new birth and maturation, justification and sanctification, the promise of resurrection beyond trials—all of it is a gift from God. All of it is ours because of the greatest gift God has given us: his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the gift of the Father and the giver of salvation. God is a giver, and that never changes!
Repent: Dear Father, all good gifts come from you. I confess that I have neglected your Son and not lived the life of faith you have given to me. Forgive me for the sake of Jesus and strengthen me to receive your gifts with faith and joy! AMEN!
Respond: Go to a coffee shop, restaurant, or someplace where you must stand in line for food and pay for the person behind you in line as a pure gift.
Receive: Faith is a gift that receives the gift of salvation. So open wide your hands, and Christ will fill them with this promise: You are forgiven. He is the giver, and you are free to enjoy the gift!