What makes the perfect gift? Gifts we have been told is one of the five love languages. I have just taken an online quiz to find my dominant love language, I’m afraid gifts was my lowest score at 7% out of receiving gifts, words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service and quality time, which sounds like bad news for my wife. How would you judge whether a gift was the perfect gift? Just for fun try ranking in order these criteria for a good gift. I have written them in no conscious order but it may reveal more about me than I would want anyone to know. By monetary value, by intimate personal connection, by what is good for you, by awareness of your needs, by how much it shows about the giver, by sincerity, by whether or not it is available at the local petrol station.
When reading James’ letter, it is helpful to remember that he is writing with the purpose of helping Christians live out their salvation whatever their circumstances. When he writes, ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above’ c17 he is contrasting that with his previous statement, ‘God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. v13 Good gifts come from God, bad ones cannot come from God. James cannot mean that all good gifts come directly from God as that is clearly untrue. The gift of flowers I gave my wife today to celebrate our wedding anniversary came from me. However, all of creation, of which the flowers are a wonderful part, have their source in God. The spirit of this is shown in our harvest festival and in the feast of harvest inaugurated in God’s law and communicated by Moses in Exodus 23:16. It is right to give God thanks and praise for the many good gifts that have their origin in nature, for the natural world is his. When we give to God we give him what is already his. As the Anglican liturgy says, ‘Of your own do we give you.’
Gifts can reveal something about the giver and it can also show something about how they view the person they are giving the gift to. When I gave my wife a kitchen appliance on our first Christmas together it could have been interpreted as I felt her place was in the kitchen, more generously it could have been interpreted as something we both needed now we were married or as I tried to explain without much success, I would have loved to have been given a drill for Christmas. It showed up a dreadful lack of insight into my wife’s feelings.
What do God’s gifts show us about him. They show a God who is unchanging and as such is utterly dependable. v17 He is all powerful and yet he is tender. Although he is the, ‘Father of the heavenly lights,’ v17 that is the celestial universe, he also took the form of a man and suffered as a man on our behalf.
His great and continuing gift is his word of truth. v18 This is our daily gift, it had the power to bring us to new life and now it has the power to sustain us. It is a gift that reveals to us the heart of the giver and more than that it guides us each step of our life. In doing so it turns us into our own harvest gift to God the Father as he sees the seed of his word bears much fruit.
How much is the gift that God gives worth? It is worth more than all money can buy because it cost the life of God’s Son. It cost him who is perfect paying the cost of all our sin. But incredibly to those who trust in him it is completely free and undeserved. On top of that he honours us with being the first fruits of his plan to renew all creation.
Let us return to those “just for fun” criteria when considering salvation through Jesus Christ. In monetary terms it is priceless, it could not be more intimate as his Spirit gives birth to ours, it is good not only because it meets our needs but our relationship with him is eternally satisfying, through Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension to glory it shows the true character of God, it is offered to all who would accept it by faith with utter sincerity. Is it available at the local petrol station? Yes, it is available wherever you turn to him, repent and believe.
Chris Tomlin – Gifts From God