Only two verses again today. I thought we’d get to three, but there is just so much to learn.
Verse 16: Don’t be deceived/misled/fooled about what? Is it about the former truth that God does not tempt or about what follows in the next verse? What if it’s both?
When we are in tests/trials/temptations, I have heard and even said things like, “This is God’s plan” or “God is maturing me/you”. Given verses 13-15, God does not cause the testing. That comes from our sinful desires only. So, I need to make sure that I am not being misled into thinking or teaching otherwise.
Verse 17: Everything good comes from God, and they are good and perfect gifts.
The literal translation is “every act of giving good and every gift perfect from above”. The Greek word used here is translated “every act of giving”. This is interesting. To me this implies not just God’s act of giving good to us, but also His acts of giving good through us. It’s not a new truth that all the good given us and the good we do come from God. But, sometimes I want to pat myself on the back particularly when I do something good during a trying time. This is a good reminder to not be misled into taking the credit for the good I do.
Perfect in Greek means complete/having reached its end. One of the commentaries I read suggested that perfected good leads to life, which James may be using as a contrast or parallel to verse 15, where completed sin leads to death.
Therefore, all good, from us and to us, in the present and when life here is complete, is from God. And this won’t ever change, because God never changes. He created all light, the light that causes shifting shadows. But He doesn’t shift or change. He is always the same.
So, if God never changes, what do I do when God reveals something to me about Himself that doesn’t fit with what I know of Him? There have been times I’ve decided I just can’t understand God and just won’t try. Other times I’ve ignored new revelations about God and His character. But what I am learning to do instead is ask for wisdom to see the errors of my perception of God and for Him to change my understanding, rather than keeping God in the box I have created for Him. It’s certainly easier to put Him in a box. But no box is big enough to hold all knowledge and understanding of Him, so I need to allow Him to change and transform me and how I live as my understanding of Him grows. Not easy!
So, given these two verses, two things are made clear to me. God does not cause trying times, and all good that occurs during and as a result of those trying times are from God. And because of Romans 8:28,” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”, God will bring about good somehow even in trials. Praise God!