“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1.16-17
I have been struck by the beauty of these verses, which were read in our services yesterday. The “Father of the heavenly lights” is a profoundly attractive name for God, isn’t it? The stars are so serenely beautiful that the God who made them must be a God of very great goodness, power and peace.
These verses remind us that the goodness, power and peace of God are at work every single day of our lives. “Every good and perfect gift” – that is, everything good, from a sunrise, to a walk on the beach with a friend, to the simple satisfaction of growing herbs or fruit in the garden, to the beauty of the stars themselves – all of these are given to us by the very good Creator of all things.
James’ point lies in verse 16: “Don’t be deceived.” The deception would be to believe that the good things are not from God. It’s a very easy deception to fall for: you only need to go along with the world, and give the credit to nature, human ingenuity, or luck. In failing to give God thanks, we miss out on the opportunity to build up in our hearts a secure sense of how good he is. This makes us vulnerable to the temptation to think ill of God when we’re in difficulties.
So, don’t let yourself be deceived about the source of the good things we have. Every single one of them is a gift sent down by the Father of the heavenly lights.
Dear Father, you made the sun, moon and stars. You are the Father of lights. You possess goodness and power, and you dwell in holiness and peace. Thank you for every perfect gift you send down to me each day. Help us never to be deceived into taking your gifts for granted. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Rev Andrew Schmidt