“Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:16–18, AV)
One of the best gifts I ever received was from my dad when I was a young man in 3rd or 4th grade. He got me into stamp collecting when a 1st-Class stamp was 3-cents. He had a great stamp collection that he began as a boy and he had some valuable stamps in the collection. We always talked about the Graf Zeppelin issue of stamps and how valuable they were. Well, one Christmas, my dad got me one mint condition Zeppelin postage stamp for my album. For me as a young boy it was a great gift, which I promptly took and mounted in my album and treasured.
Gifts are always something very special because they are given freely to the recipient. If someone would be charged for a gift or if it was something earned through performance, it would not be a gift. One of the things that make a gift special is the one who gives the gift. For me, it was special to receive this gift from my dad, because he took special care to give me the perfect gift that Christmas.
James has been dealing with the issue of trials and in particular temptations in the preceding verses and then he presents this statement that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” The phrase, “the Father of lights,” is an ancient term referring to God. God the Father is the giver of every good and perfect gift. What God gives is perfectly good, not flawed in any way. While we do struggle with temptation, God never sends us anything that is flawed with evil. Everything He has given us is infinitely good and perfect. In fact, what the gift He has sent, rather than to cause us to stumble in temptation has come to deliver us from sin and its power.
When we look at the gift of God, we have been greatly blessed. The phrase, “gift of God,” is used six times in the ESV New Testament. In these verses, we form a picture of the magnitude of this gift. The gift of God came to us in the person of Jesus Christ (John 4:10, see John 3:16). The gift of God came to us in the person of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:19-20; Eph 3:7). The gift of God is eternal life (Rom 6:23; Eph 2:8-9). The gift of God brings a special manifestation to us to serve God (Eph 3:7; 2 Tim 1:6). When we look at these, we must realize that the gift of God is perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. It gives us complete victory over sin. He has given us everything we need to live victoriously and to serve Him forever.
James tells us that He who has given us this great gift, never changes and is not wavering. The gift He gave us is complete, perfect and never changing. Moreover, it shall never be taken away from us. We are in His hands and on solid ground.
James goes on to tell us that God caused us to be born again “with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” The first fruits in the Scripture represents the best of the harvest, with the anticipation that the remainder will be in kind. God has given us His great gift so that we would be the best, that we would not live defeated in life by the “wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11). God would never cause us to sin or be subjected to it. Rather, He has given us everything we need to overcome for all time. “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, ESV)