Bible Readings: James 1: 1-27; Psalm 104: 24-35, Proverbs 8: 1-36
Why do we give gifts? There are many reasons for giving gifts, some righteous and some not so righteous but we know that ideally a gift that is given is a gift that should be given fully. When we give a gift, we give it because of who we are, not because of who the person is that we give the gift to. Whether they receive it or not, when we give a gift for a righteous reason, we give it because of our love for them or because we appreciate them or because we believe that this is the right thing to do (as an act of showing mercy or compassion); and it will always be because it is our way of expressing something about how we feel. We can encourage them to use it because we believe that it would make their life better, but if we hold them ransom to the gift; then we are not actually giving a gift, we are making a down payment on something we expect to be receiving in return. A gift that becomes payment for services we expect to be rendered can either be a bribe or it makes the recipient of the gift our puppet or prostitute. When we give out of fear, it is a bribe because we are hoping that this will sway the receiver to not be angry with us or hurt us or bring calamity upon our heads.
God gives good gifts. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17, NIV). When God gives us the gift of life, the gift of redemption, the gift of community, the gift of healing, the gift of salvation, the gift of peace with Him and every other good and perfect gift that He gives; He does not give it to us because of who we are, but He gives it because of who He is and He knows perfectly what we need. He gives it because as a perfect God and a perfect Father who is giving perfect gifts; the gifts will all make our lives better. They will all bring something beautiful out of every situation. They will bring life out of every death. God does not expect anything in return for His gifts except that we would use them because they make for a fulfilled life and they help us remain close to Him because God knows that remaining close to Him is the best place we could ever be. This is why He pours out His gifts of full life for all people and those who are willing to receive it will receive it.
Even though we hope that the gifts we give with a right heart will make the recipient’s life better, we are not always sure what they are going through or even what they really need and so more often than not, our gift giving becomes a case of best guess (even though some guesses are more educated than others). As if God was not the perfect gift giver; we so easily credit Him with bringing suffering and death as well as playing a divine lottery with His blessings, as we wait for Him to bring our ship in because that is what we ordered in the catalogue. If God does not delight in suffering or delight in death and if God does not tempt us, then how could this be from a good and perfect God? God does not bring suffering, death or temptation, but they are rather a consequence of our living apart from God, of disobedience to God’s guidance (not necessarily our own or even our generation’s disobedience) and so part of the gift that God gives us as we remain close to Him is that He draws us through death and is present with us in suffering and out of both, He brings life. Even though it is not from God; He will use it to help us onto maturity in our faith and maturity in our love because that is a part of God’s good and perfect gift.