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Shifting Shadows

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV

Think about the worst gift you've ever received. What made it bad? Was it made on the spur of the moment with little thought? Was it something that you had no interest in whatsoever? Was it a gift given from a sense of obligation? When we receive bad or even mediocre gifts, rather than making us feel happy, it makes us sad. It also says a lot about the giver.

Today's verse talks about God's "good and perfect" gifts and cautions us about those from the "shifting shadows" place, those unrighteous and harmful gifts. What are some of these?

  • Selfish Ambition: When we pursue our desires without considering God's will or the well-being of others, it's a gift that doesn't align with God's purpose and can lead to harmful actions and discord. Instead, God desires us to put Him and others before ourselves.

  • Pride and Arrogance: Closely aligned with selfish ambition, the gift of pride, which exalts ourselves above others, is not from God. Arrogance closes our eyes to our need for God's grace and humility.

  • Destructive Tongue: Words have immense power. A gift of gossip, slander, or hurtful speech harms relationships and goes against God's command to love and encourage one another.

  • Envy and Jealousy: These feelings stem from discontentment and comparison. They lead to bitterness and strife rather than the peace and contentment God desires. 

  • Materialism: An obsession with accumulating possessions or wealth can distract us from God's purposes. When we prioritize material things over spiritual growth and relationships, it's a gift that doesn't align with God's heart/

  • Unforgiveness: Holding grudges and refusing to forgive is a gift that separates us from God's grace. Unforgiveness hinders our spiritual growth and damages relationships.

These "gifts" go by another name: sin. We need to be continually alert to reject these gifts from Satan but, if we do, to not re-gift them to others. 

Instead, we must remember God's "good and perfect" gifts and give thanks. His gifts of:

  • Salvation: God's grace through Jesus Christ is the greatest gift. It redeems us, forgives our sins, and offers eternal life.

  • Life and Breath: Every heartbeat, every breath we take, is a gift from God. Our existence itself is a divine blessing.

  • Creation: The beauty of nature—the sun, moon, stars, oceans, mountains—is a gift. God's handiwork surrounds us, revealing His glory.

  • Talents and Abilities: Whether it's artistic skills, musical talent, or intellectual abilities, these gifts enable us to contribute positively to the world.

  • Relationships: Our families, friends, and loved ones are precious gifts. They provide companionship, love, and support.

  • Provision: God provides for our needs—food, shelter, clothing. Even the simplest things are gifts from His generous hand.

  • Wisdom: The ability to discern right from wrong, make sound decisions, and seek God's guidance is a gift.

  • Purpose: God gives us purpose—a calling, a mission. Discovering and fulfilling it brings fulfillment and joy.

  • Hope: In times of darkness, God's gift of hope sustains us. It's an anchor for our souls.

  • His Word: The Bible—a treasure trove of wisdom, comfort, and truth—is a divine gift to guide our lives.

Every breath, every sunrise, every smile, and every moment of grace—all are gifts from our loving Heavenly Father. Let's cherish them and express gratitude!

Heavenly Father, unchanging and faithful, we lift our hearts in gratitude. Your goodness knows no bounds; every perfect gift flows from Your generous hand. As the Father of lights, You illuminate our lives with grace and love.

Lord, in a world of shifting shadows and uncertainty, we find solace in Your constancy. You are our Provider, unwavering and steadfast. We thank You for the blessings surpassing our counting—the breaths we take, the sunrises we witness, and the love surrounding us.

May our hearts overflow with praise. Help us recognize that all good things come from You. Teach us to be grateful for material gifts and intangible blessings—the warmth of friendship, the joy of laughter, and the hope that anchors our souls.

In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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