Friday, December 8, 2023

Tis the Gifting Season – James 1

Friday, December 8, 2023

Tis the Gifting Season – James 1 - Submitted by Kay Crumley

We have been bombarded since at least Halloween with ads for the perfect gift to buy for our loved ones this year.  I thought that was bad enough but then Black Friday ads, emails, texts, etc. started with a vengeance.  That was quickly followed with Cyber Monday sales promotions.  Man, so of those lasted all week with extensions and even bigger savings.  I am beginning to think the best gift I can get is for the advertisements to STOP!.  It sounds like my inner bah humbug self is surfacing.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to giving or receiving gifts, especially those that I know come from a heart of love.  But I suspect we have become the victims of gifting contests to see who can give the best, biggest, most costly, or the hardest to find of the season.  Who are we trying to impress?  The truth is that most of our families and their children already have all they need and more.  The commercialism of Santa has sucked us in to believe we must prove our love and concern for each other with expensive ‘things’.  That leads me to wonder what the Bible says about gifts.  I am not just talking about the Gifts of the Spirit.  I am finding some verses about gifts that I want to explore so that we can get a better understanding of gifts. 

The book of James was a letter written by James the half-brother of Jesus.  James was not an apostle but became a believer and strong leader of the Jerusalem church.  He witnessed Jesus’ resurrection and joined the disciples as a believer.  He wrote the book of James to deal more with Christian ethics than Christian theology.  Its theme is the outworking of faith—the external evidence of internal conversion. 

He introduced himself as a servant to God and the Lord Jesus Christ in verse 1 of chapter 1, not as the half-brother of Jesus.  He humbly understood his position was because of his relationship with God was not based on his family ties but on the sacrifice of Jesus.   

James used the first 12 verses teaching about trials and that God uses those to build our faith.  He also tells his readers that wisdom is available from God just for the asking so that we can make sound decisions.  He informs us that we are blessed with the promises of God when we endure trials and have stood the test, remained faithful to godly standards, and avoided the temptations.  

James 1 

13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God,” since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. 

Now in verses 13-15 we see that God is not the author of temptations.  He does not tempt anyone.  Instead, temptation comes from the desires we have in our heart.  It’s like when we look at that item for sale and we covet it.  We know it’s not something we can afford or should have but, what at great mark down in price!  Overspending or spending that deprives our family of their needs is sinful.  The more we desire and are greedy for those things that bring us glory rather than glorifying God, the more we are enticed to follow through and commit the sin.  That will lead to death, perhaps not physical death but death of our relationship/fellowship with God.  Satan is the author of temptation because he desires our downfall while God desires our development of relationship with our Father, God. 

He then, in verses 16-18, gives us hope and encouragement.  We must not fall into the trap of greed or desire to impress.  Why?  Because the only truly good gift is from God, the Father of lights.  He will not lead us astray, He is trustworthy, not changing His teachings to fit the world’s idea of value or prestige.  Our worth is in Him alone.  He is our creator and sustainer. He knit us in our mothers’ womb.  We are His by new birth through His Word of Truth.  We are His creation and are fruitful through obedience to Him. 

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 By his own choice, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. 

That good gift is the one that Jesus freely gives to all who will believe in Him and place their trust in His promises.  Nothing we can buy, no level of honor by man can equal the eternal gift that can only come from God through Jesus Christ the Son. 

This Christmas let’s all keep our focus on what is truly important and of value.  All the material positions will rot and become useless.  Only our hope in Him has lasting value. 


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