November 1, 1987 Issue
Bennie T. Cryer

James 1:16-17

God is the father of lights. "Lights" stand for the sun, other stars, the moon along with all of the planets. These "lights" had become objects of worship among the pagans and evidently some of the brethren were at least in danger of participating in those pagan rites dedicated to the sun or other of the heavenly bodies. When James admonished the brethren not to "err" in verse 16 he used a word from which we also get the English word "planet." The definition of the verb form of this word means "to wander." When the ancient astronomers attempted to map out the heavenly bodies they noticed that some of the stars maintained a fixed position while others "wandered." To those "stars" that seemed to go astray they gave them the name "planets" meaning to them "wandering stars." James observed that some brethren were like the planets. They wandered astray from God to the point they were worshiping the "lights" instead of the father of the lights, who, of course, was God. The pagans could easily understand the influence and power of the sun. They could feel its warmth. Their food supply had a direct relationship with the sun. It provided them light, etc. Then, realizing the blessings that came from the sun they erected an altar to it and "worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator..." Romans 1:25. The brethren were not to wander from the truth into this error, so, James gives them a lesson about where all the gifts come from. They are from the father or maker of these lights and not from the lights themselves. These gifts fall into two classes: The good gifts and the perfect gifts.


"Every good gift" seems to refer to all the material blessings God has provided for the physical well being of man. At the least, God classed all these gifts as "good" when he created them according to the record in Genesis 1. Light was created and God saw that it was "good." You can see this also when you think about the blessings that come your way because of light. Without it we would not have food, could not see our precious loved ones nor behold the beauties of creation about us. The same was true with each of the things God created. God saw that the atmosphere about us and the separation of the waters above us and from dry land was good. Who could deny this when you consider the blessings derived from each thing God made at the beginning. All of it was for man and society that he created last of all. God made all of the things in the vegetable kingdom and then provided the "lights" above us in the heavens. It was good. Then he made the fish of the waters and the fowls of the air. It was good. Then he made the beasts of the field. God saw that it was good and thousands of years later when Paul wrote 1 Timothy 4:4 he agreed with all of this by saying "For every creature of God is good..." So, the good gifts refer to the material things God has so bountifully bestowed upon each of us for our physical well being. But the physical part of man was not all of man. There was the inner man, the spirit, that also needed gifts for its well being. For it God provided the perfect gifts.


James does not enumerate all of the perfect gifts from God for the spirit in this chapter for there are many. Suffice it to say for all the other perfect gifts that God has "blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." Ephesians 1:3. They (the perfect gifts) are given "That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Timothy 3:17. This is possible because God "hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness..." 2 Peter 1:3. If you will study each of these passages closely you will note that all of these perfect gifts are bestowed upon us through "the perfect law of liberty" of James 1:25. Just like the "lights" of heaven are Gods instruments through which he bestows so many blessings upon us earthlings, the word of God is His "light instrument" from which radiates all the blessings we have in Christ Jesus. All the things that pertain to life and godliness comes "through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." 2 Peter 1:3. James makes clear the connection of "every perfect gift" with "the perfect law of liberty" in the verses immediately following his statement in verse 17:

1. Verse 18. We are begotten "by the word of truth."

2. Verse 21. The engrafted word is able to save our souls.

3. Verse 22. Admonished to be doers of the word and not hearers only.

4. Verse 23-25. The word of God is a mirror each can look into and clearly see his own reflection, correct that which is astray or not what it should be and be blessed for doing it. James then classes the word as "the perfect law of liberty thus identifying it as one of the "every perfect gift" of verse 17.


There is a danger of our "wandering" today just as they did in James day when he penned these words. We may not wander into the same form of pagan worship as they did back there, but there are different ways of worshiping and serving "the creature more than the Creator." The ancient thought their blessings originated with the sun. They could not reason above the sun to the father of lights and worship and serve him. We get so comfortable today with all the "good gifts" we have. Our reason is short circuited and we think these things have come our way because of our own efforts and the job or business we have. In this form of humanism we then start spending our time, thoughts and efforts on our job and then hastily serve ourselves a plate full of recreation or other luxuries of this life and we have no time for God. It is sinful to spend our all in pursuit of "every good gift" and forget that the father of them is also the father of "every perfect gift" and he is more interested in our attitude toward them and wants us to know that we are not a complete "man of God" without them.

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