The Father of Lights: James 1:17


James 1:17

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

James does not want us to be fooled. He does not want us to get in the midst of a trial and loose sight of who God is. Remember, God sends trials into the life of a believer as a holy work meant for sanctification. Yet, because of our sin we are tempted to doubt God in the midst of a trial. And even more, we are prone to blame God for out situation (1:13). This is what James is guarding against.


Rather than blame God for temptation, we should carefully examine our situation. When we start to look around we will soon realize that God did not cause us to be tempted, but He did provide a remedy for our temptation. James uses two different adjective to describe God’s gifts: good and perfect. These two adjectives distinguish to two aspects of God’s gifts. God’s gifts are good in that they are useful and beneficial. And God’s gifts are perfect in that they are complete and lacking nothing to meet the needs of the recipient. All of this can be found in God. Even a trial is good. A trial can be useful in our lives, and when God sends us a trial it is completely the trial that we need in our lives.
Christ spoke of the goodness of the Father in Matthew chapter 6.

Matthew 6:27-34 27 :

“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

If God feeds the birds of the air, and clothes the lilies of the field shouldn’t that be enough to prove to us that He is a good God. It is when we understand that God is a good God that we can seek HIs kingdom first. God makes so much available to us, and yet we still try to blame Him when we do not take advantage of His grace. We must see that the work that God has done in this world from the smallest speck of dust, to Christ’s death on the cross is good. God’s gifts are marked by kindness, and helpfulness. God’s gifts prove that He is a good God, not a destructive God.God is the Father of lights. The Father of lights was an ancient Jewish title for God. Lights referred to the heavenly (i.e. sun, moon, and stars) lights (But not only is God the creator and sustainer of the heavenly lights, he is also the Father of spiritual light. 1 John says that there is no darkness in his at all. In God all perfection, and righteousness is fully illuminated, and there are no shadows of sin.). God is called the Father of heavenly lights to show His excellence and highness, but James continues the metaphor so that we may not measure the greatness of God by the brightness of the heavenly lights. He is the Father of the heavenly lights, but more than that he is better than the heavenly lights. As the creator and sustainer of the lights he is not to be identified as equal to them. James says that there is “no variation or shifting shadow” in God. The sun may move or be blocked from our view by the earth, but God never changes. The moon may be eclipsed by the earth, but there is nothing that can change God. He is the eternal source of perfect light. James says all of this (God neither changes nor is changed) to remind us that God will always be the giver of good gifts. God is the Father of the heavenly lights, but unlike the shifting shadows that are created by the sun, moon, and stars God does not change. God is always the giver of good gifts, and nothing is able to change that. People may fail to see God’s wisdom and even accuse God for their own failings, but God will always be the giver of good gifts who cannot be blamed for man’s evil.

As I read this verse in James I cannot help but sing to myself the wonderful hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness:”

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest no, thy compassions they fail not;

As Though hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by Morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me!

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6 Comments

  1. I found out if you go to the “settings” part of your blog, then “comments” you can turn on “word verification,” that prevents the automatic software systems that put those messages on from doing that since it takes a human to input one of those words. It’s nice.

  2. I love the way James calls on God as the Father of lights. Its so endearing and just beautiful. I’ve been blessed in your reading. To think that He who is so high might bend so low as to show us what is good and perfect. To think that the sun n moon may fade, but He will still be there. Its so lovely. Such a warm thought to wrap the mind around. Thank you, and Happy Sabbath.

  3. I read James 1:16-18 today for my Daily Quiet Time. The way that I read this passage was similar to yours, but there was also a different level of analysis that struck me, and I would like your (anyone reading this’) thoughts. Suppose one read that God created the stars and does not change. That is to say, the way that stars evolve now is the way that they have evolved since God created them. He does not change the physical laws of the Universe that He created. Would this reading, then, suggest an old (~13.7 billion year) creation?

    I confess a bias as I am a believer in an old Universe. I am also nearly done with a bachelor’s degree in physics, so I might see support for my belief where none may truly exist. Surely one would not base their case for an old creation on this one passage alone, but it struck me as a piece of supporting evidence, nonetheless.

  4. Devin…just read your post…I would like to know if you still feel the same way …..about your comment today…ca you did a year ago

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