The ultimate source of all generosity

Posted Nov 23, 2020

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Daily Scripture

James 1:13-18

13 No one who is tested should say, “God is tempting me!” This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone. 14 Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. 15 Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. 18 He chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created.

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Reflection Questions

You may recall that last week Pastor Hamilton preached the idea of the largely agricultural Israelites giving God the “first fruits,” the early produce from their crops. We also saw that in the GPS readings. In today’s passage, James picked up on that idea and said all of us as Christ-followers are the “first crop” from God’s harvest. One sign of that is our generosity, which springs from our Creator, who gives us “every good gift, every perfect gift.”

  • In various ways, the Scriptures keep reminding us that giving to God is always “giving back,” not giving something we did not first receive. Scholar N. T. Wright wrote, “James grounds his teaching in what is true about God himself, God the generous giver, the ‘father of lights’. Everything that truly lights up the world is a gift from him.”* Reflect on one or two times when you were most keenly aware that whatever you have in time, talent, money or anything else is a gift from God.
  • When something bad has happened, straining your faith, have you ever said (or had someone say to you), “Why is God doing this?” James was unequivocal: “No one who is tested should say, ‘God is tempting me!’” How can James’ assurance that “Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above” correct and reassure you when you’re tempted to hold God responsible for bad things?

Prayer

Lord God, thank you for reminding me that you are the source of good things, not bad. Let your generosity so fill my heart that I learn more and more how to act like you do. Amen.


* Wright, N. T., The Early Christian Letters for Everyone (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 9). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

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Donna Karlen

Donna Karlen

Donna Karlen serves in Communications at Church of the Resurrection by creating and managing social media content.

When I was little, my grandmother gave my cousin and me the PERFECT gift: go-go boots. Yup — those bright white ankle boots made popular in the 60s had us racing to the shoebox-sized packages under the Christmas tree! We wasted no time in putting on our fashion statements and probably had to be told we couldn’t sleep in them. I think I wore those little beauties just about every day for as long as I could scrunch my feet into them.

Eventually they went out of style, or got scuffed up, or didn’t fit — I don’t remember. The perfect gift probably became a church rummage sale donation. So while the gift of those boots gave both giver and receiver momentary joy, the boots faded, the joy forgotten.

But we, as God’s children, received THE perfect gift on another Christmas — the first Christmas! A gift that keeps on giving. A gift that never fades or goes out of style or doesn’t fit. A gift that came down from God in the form of a baby. A gift that brings us strength when we are tested, lifts us up when we fall into temptation, gives us birth — again and again and again.

Jesus gives us back to God. Through Jesus, we become God’s “first crop” — the most valued portion. And while we are most definitely imperfect gifts, God races to us.

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