Father of Lights

James 1:17 (ESV) … “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.”


So how can we keep from falling into temptation? The way is found in a close relationship with God and the application of his Word to daily life. This pattern will lead us to see clearly that every good and perfect gift is from above.


Every good gift and perfect gift is from above. In contrast to the view that God sends evil, James points out here that: (1) God is the source of everything good, and (2) God’s good gifts are also perfect. This part of the verse can also be translated, “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift” (nrsv). As is so often the case with the Bible, the meaning of the words is good news even at first reading, and the meaning gets better as we understand it. God is not only the source of good gifts, he is the very source of the giving impulse. The ability to give is one aspect of God’s image in us. And God’s gifts are also perfect. They are good gifts, given at the right time, for good purposes. This can result in God withholding a good gift from us that would not be perfect for us. That same gift may be perfect for someone else. This truth should help us rejoice with others when they receive good gifts from God even though we have not received the same ones.


We can be assured that God always wills the best for us—not good things today and bad things tomorrow. Whatever happens is for our best. God is not like the well-meaning relative who gives the beautiful, warm coat we have always wanted, but that is unfortunately several sizes too small. God’s gifts are very good, and they also fit us perfectly.


Coming down from the Father of lights. This phrase pictures God as the sovereign Creator of the sun, moon, and stars (see Genesis 1; Isaiah 60:19–22; and John 1:1–14.) The giving character of God is written into his creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). God gives us good gifts—and the light by which to see and enjoy them.


Who does not change like shifting shadows. God’s character is always trustworthy and reliable (Malachi 3:6). Nothing can block God’s goodness from reaching us. What does not change about God is his giving nature. It is constant and consistent. He is undaunted by our inconsistencies and unfaithfulness. We may be like shifting shadows, but God remains the Father of lights. It is a healthy exercise in humility to express our gratefulness to God for his unchanging love towards us. [1]


Light of the world! for ever, ever shining There is no change in Thee; True Light of Life, all joy and health enshrining, Thou canst not fade nor flee. — Horatius Bonar




[1] Barton, B. B., Veerman, D., & Wilson, N. S. (1992). James (pp. 28–29). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

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