Meditations in James: 10 : God is Good
Jas 1:16,17 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
There is, in the world, a lie that has been generated by Sin and by Satan, that God is a hard and harsh God. It runs from blaming God for minor injuries right through to blaming Him for the Holocaust. With little thought about the matter it blames God for creating evil and it blames God for suffering generally. Rarely does the Bible ‘defend’ God because the foolish will always think and say foolish things and the wise will seek and come to the truth anyway. Yet it is a clear truth that the sinful nature always looks on the black side when it comes to God. People have been deceived by Satan ever since that first deception in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3) and have listened to his lies (Jn 8:44) and have thus been blinded to the truth (2 Cor 4:4). Sin generally has a blinding effect (Jn 12:40, 1 Jn 2:11). When things go wrong sin suggests that it is God’s fault. When we are tempted, we say it is God’s fault. These are the silly things that come into our minds, and out of our mouths, and James warns against these things, warns against being deceived.
James starts his attack on this way of thinking, aware of the struggles we cope with in this Fallen World, dispersed among the world, referring to everything good that is part of our existence. It’s one thing to focus on all the bad things of the world (actually brought about by sin in mankind) but rarely do we hear anyone categorising all the good things of this world. James doesn’t bother to stop to think about what they are, but you might like to do that sometime. Stop and consider the wonderful provision that this planet has for us. Consider the potential for enjoyment that God has given to us. Consider the wonder of such things as love, joy, peace. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see the wonder of His goodness in your life. I did that a number of years ago and have been marvelling ever since, as I have started to realise even more how God’s hand has been on my life, throughout it, and that hand has only ever brought good, wonderful good!
No, James simply acknowledges that there are things in our experience that are actually good and faultless and, he says, they come from God. Only good things come from God because God’s character is good. Indeed everything that God does is good. It started, as far as we are concerned, from when He created this world: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Before sin entered the world, that was a description of it, very good! When Moses spoke of the land, even though it was occupied by sinful pagans, he said, “God is giving you this good land to possess” (Deut 9:6). When one of the scribes recorded what happened he declared, “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled” (Josh 21;45), i.e. God had promised good for them and all that had come about. When Abigail spoke to David she said, “When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him” (1 Sam 25:30). She acknowledged what was generally accepted, that God had promised good for David. Solomon also, at the dedication of the Temple, reiterated the same thing: “Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.” (1 Kings 8:56). David wrote it as a song to be sung, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chron 16:34). This came to be something declared at great moments, such as the dedication of the Temple referred to above, “they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: ‘He is good; his love endures forever.” (2 Chron 5:13). This had practical outworkings, for instance, when Hezekiah reinstigated the Passover and some came not having had time to purify themselves: “But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God–the LORD, the God of his fathers–even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” (2 Chron 30:18-20). He trusted in God’s goodness in the situation and God honoured that.
But even more than that, James says, not only is God like this but He is always like this. He doesn’t change! In the beginning when God made everything He made the sun and the moon and the stars and as fixed as they are, so is His character. Even as He shed natural light on the earth, so it is a reminder of His own glory that shines, ever giving us light, a glory that is unfading in the Gospel (2 Cor 3:11). For ever His love keeps pouring out and will not stop because it is simply an expression of His character. This is what He is and so this is what we receive. No, we don’t need to let the gloom of the world, or the gloom that Satan would bring on us through difficult circumstances, bring us down. From our God come good things, even in the midst of this world, wherever we are. So, if the enemy has been spreading lies in your mind about God, it’s time to refute them with the truth of Scripture. Let’s join with the saints of old and continually be found declaring and singing, “God is good; His love endures for ever!”