I have always loved James 1:17:
“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.”
God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. What a beautiful thought!
It is interesting to think about in the context of the rest of the passage in which it sits, however. (Read James 1:12-18). What does God’s giving nature have to do with trials? Or with temptation?
I think a key connection is in verse 16, and it’s easy to miss. “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.”
When I am in the middle of some difficulty (a relational conflict, a financial stress, a health crisis, etc.), I am more vulnerable to temptation. When I feel hurt, I am tempted to nurse grudges and bitterness. When I am at the end of my resources, financial or physical, I am tempted to rely on myself or others instead of God.
And maybe a common thread in all of these possible temptations is the deception that comes. When I am “lured and enticed by [my] own desire” (vs 14), I am deceived about who God is. In those moments when the devil is dangling the fruit in front of me, it comes with inherent lies about God’s character:
“He isn’t a good God.”
“He doesn’t love you.”
“He’s not going to take care of you.”
“You’re on your own, so you’d better get to work taking care of this problem yourself.”
“God has forgotten you.”
Sound familiar? These lies are at the core of every decision we make to turn from God and embrace sin. Every time we give in to temptation. And those temptations come hot and heavy in the midst of trials. I believe this is why James brings up temptation in the middle of a passage about enduring trials.
In this context, how sweet and beautiful are verses 16–18! Don’t be deceived, dear ones, James says! God IS good. Everything that is good and perfect and lovely is from Him. This truth is a powerful antidote to the lies of the enemy when we are suffering.
In light of this, I’d like to suggest that thanksgiving and praise are a powerful weapon when we find ourselves in the middle of this battle against temptation. When Satan is whispering these lies in your ear, when you feel his hot breath on your neck and your circumstances feel so bleak that this temptation in front of you (to despair, to wallow in hate, to choose selfishness) feels like your only option—speak verses 16 and 17 out loud.
Sing a song of praise to the God who has rescued you. The God who showers you with good things. He is the Father of lights, and the one lying to you is the prince of darkness. As you move toward the truth, you are turning on the lights and the scales of deception will begin to fall away. The lure of temptation will lose its power, and you will find yourself strengthened to continue persevering in your trial.
God loves us so much, dear ones. Let us not be deceived.