Reading Time: 7 Minutes
Meeting the Giver of Good Gifts
In his book, “Steps and Stories,” Sandy Beach relates how his sponsor introduced him to God. The dialogue is so much fun and insightful, I am including it in this article with a few changes to help the flow of the story.
Sponsor: OK, now let’s sit down, Sandy, and talk about God.
Sandy: I don’t think we want to do that. I’m not comfortable with that. I just don’t feel like I want to do that.
Sponsor: Why don’t you read the part in the Big Book to the agnostic? (Later, he asked Beach if he had read the chapter.)
Sandy: Oh, yeah, I was reading it. It is really cool, right here, and I like this. That’s the chapter that tells the agnostics how to stay sober. It obviously doesn’t include any steps.
Sponsor: The Big Book says you are suffering from an illness that only a spiritual experience will help.
Sandy: I don’t believe in spiritual experiences.
Sponsor: Well, then you’re screwed. The Big Book goes on to say “To die an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not easy alternatives to face.”
Imagine a quiz show with the title, “So You Want to be an Alcoholic?” Come on up here, and we’ve got two doors back here, Sandy!
You got to choose one of them. All right. All right. Now, let me show you door number one: die an alcoholic death. Do you want that door?
Sandy: No, I don’t want that door. Is there another door?
Sponsor: Yeah, live on a spiritual basis. Which door do you want?
Sandy: Sounds like two pretty bad choices. I don’t like either one of them. Is there a third door?
Sponsor: No, they’re only two doors. Why do people choose door number two, the spiritual course? Because door one, death, is worse.
Who is behind door number two?
If we use Sandy Beach’s illustration, behind door number two is a spiritual pathway. James describes the Person behind the spiritual pathway like this.
James 1.16-18 – Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters. 17 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. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
God is the perfect giver of all good gifts. I encourage you to look for all of God’s gifts when you read the Bible and when you take your next walk or car trip. They are literally everywhere.
Giving perfect gifts from above can easily be a summary of what we have read in James.
(1) God gives us the gift we don’t want, trials (James 1.2-4). Even we don’t want trials, God uses them to grow us into more perfect people.
(2) God gives us a gift we do want, wisdom (James 1.5-8). I have quoted Rufus Moseley in these articles. His mother had eight children to raise in the years following the Civil War. When she had a problem, she would take a walk in the woods near their home and not come back until God gave her the answer. She knew where to find wisdom for her daily needs.
(3) God gives us the perfect gift of perspective about wealth and poverty (James 1.9-11). Jesus devotes one-third of a chapter to the question of anxiety about things (Matthew 6.25-34). His gift is to live free from anxiety.
(4) Another perfect gift from the Giver of good gifts is freedom from the destructive aspects of temptation and sin (James 1.12-15). How many millions of men and women have opened door number two in Sandy Beach’s illustration and have experienced freedom from addiction and spiritual fulfillment?
We are only two-thirds of the way through just one chapter of James and we have four life-changing gifts from God to consider. Let’s praise God, the Giver of good gifts!
Don’t be deceived.
James begins this Bible passage with the words, “Do not be deceived” (verse 16).
Satan is described as the “the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12.9). Jesus describes the work of the devil as that of a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy our lives (John 10.10a).
Paul states the tragedy of self-sufficient, self-pleasing people who live separate from God: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1.21).
When we open the wrong door through temptation and prideful selfishness, we open it to deception, darkness, and death.
James makes the contrast clear by declaring the Giver of good gifts to be “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (verse 17). Jesus describes God’s gifts, “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10.10b).
When we open the right door to a spiritual experience with the Giver of good gifts, we can completely rest our lives in the hands of an unchanging lover of our soul. His entire interest is to give us an abundant life.
How does it work?
How can a person open the door that leads to abundant life?
James says, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1.18). The phrase, “the word of truth,” is literally the key that opens to door for us.
(1) People hear the good news, the “word of truth.” Jesus gave his life to save people like us. “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5.19 and 21).
(2) People open their lives to God by asking Jesus to become a part of their lives. He enters and begins living with them as their best friend. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3.20). In the first century to eat with someone was to be their friend.
(3) People start living a life of friendship with Jesus that transforms them fully. Jesus said, “I have called you friends” (John 15.15).
Dear God, thank you for being the Giver of all good gifts. Thank you for the gift of a life of friendship with Jesus. Please help us all to live in that life. Thank you. Amen.