Broadcasting now. Watch Live.
Gods Gifts 4 1

Every Perfect Gift

When I became a mom, I did not anticipate how much fun it would be to give gifts to my children. Gift giving has never been my strong suit, so I was shocked at how excited I was for my daughter to open her plastic tea set for her 1st birthday. I was almost giddy, knowing how happy she was going to be. This was not a feeling I had felt before! My happiness rivaled her happiness.

Then I got to thinking…that is how God describes His relationship to us! In Matthew 7:11, Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him?” Can you conceive of that? If it makes me happy to give good gifts to my children, then even more so it makes God happy to give good gifts to me!

As we’ve been studying covetousness this year in our Titus 2 Bible study, it can be easy to try to hold God’s good gifts at arms’ length. Once we see the dangers of covetousness, we can look at good things as dangers that pull our hearts toward covetousness. But God didn’t intend his good gifts to be received cautiously and gingerly. What if my daughter had opened her tea set and smiled a little but decided that she shouldn’t be TOO happy about the tea set in case she loved it more than me? That would actually disappoint me, the giver. The tea set was meant to delight my daughter, and to help her know how much I love her. And so it is with each of God’s good gifts. He gives them to us for our delight and for His own delight, using them to show our hearts His character – His mercy, grace, love, and goodness. Without God’s good gifts, we would have an incomplete understanding of God!

When Jesus encourages us to look at the lilies in Matthew 6, we see this same pattern. Why would God give us the good gift of pretty flowers? So we can know, trust, and love Him. What kind of God gives beauty to flowers that last a day? A God whose kindness exceeds our imagination. A God who lavishes goodness and beauty on flowers and therefore does so even more for us.

There’s another way we may think wrongly about God’s good gifts – we are so afraid of losing them or spoiling them that we refuse to enjoy them. For example, when I was a girl, I loved getting new boxes of crayons. But I tried really hard NOT to use my new crayons, because I was afraid they would be spoiled. In fact, I just found a set of my perfect crayons in a box that had been in my parent’s attic for at least 15 years! Looking back, that’s a pretty silly mindset. What did I gain from that box of crayons? Did I actually enjoy them?

Like I did with my crayons, we can hold God’s gifts at arm’s length not because we fear making an idol out of them, but because we fear the pain that will come if we lose them. But in the end, that’s also making an idol out of them! We are saying, “God, I love this gift so much that I CANNOT deal with having it taken away.”

But the Biblical response is to acknowledge the very real pain that comes when we lose a good gift and then to still choose to enjoy that good gift. The year that I buried my infant son, I often found myself meditating on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. When Jesus was facing great loss, He was “grieved and distressed…to the point of death” (Mat. 26:37-38). These emotions were not, could not be sinful! He begged God in prayer to spare Him, knowing the whole time that God’s answer would be “No”. Jesus didn’t say “I’m just going to hold these desires loosely so that it doesn’t hurt when God says ‘No’”. He loved and longed fully and then hurt fully when His request was denied. And yet He put His complete trust in His Father, because He loved Him best of all.

James 1:17 reminds us that “EVERY good thing given and EVERY perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (emphasis mine). We don’t have to fear these good gifts or try to not be too excited about them. Our enjoyment in them delights our good and lavish God who “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (I Tim. 6:17). A tepid response to God’s good gifts is as inappropriate as a tepid response to a gift from a human gift-giver who loves us deeply. Instead, it is God-honoring and God-pleasing that we enjoy them! In enjoying them, we can turn our hearts to enjoy our loving, generous, unchanging Father. And we can trust that loving Father to be our greatest good should He choose to withhold or take away one of His good gifts.