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In his book, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome, R. KENT HUGHES tells of a dark night of the soul that he went through and how the Lord brought him out. Kent Hughes had been groomed for success. It was no surprise that he was chosen to plant a new church. Expectations were so high that there were whispers that his new church would soon outgrow the mother church. But several years later, there were very few signs of life, growth, or fruit. In a moment of weakness, Kent said to his wife Barbara, “God has called me to do something he hasn’t give me the gifts to accomplish. Therefore, God is not good.” Barbara assured her him that she still believed in the goodness of God. She encouraged him to hold on to her faith for the night. She had enough faith to believe for the both of them. What do you hold on to when life causes you to question the goodness of God? Let me encourage you to hold fast to the words of James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
The recipients of this letter from James were undergoing trials of various kinds. They needed wisdom to understand their trials and respond to them appropriately. Indeed, both misunderstanding and mishandling trials were both problems for James’ readers. They needed to know that God uses trials test the genuineness of our faith and to nurture our faith to maturity. Because they did not understand this, they were failing these tests of faith. Their trials were becoming temptations to sin. Some were even accusing God of a divine conspiracy in which God was using their trials to set them up to sin. In James 1:13-18, James addresses this matter of God and a case of mistaken identity. In verses 13-15, James argues that God is a holy God that never sends temptation or sin into our lives. Then in verses 16-18, James argues that God is a good God that only sends good and perfect gifts. In clear, graphic, and powerful terms, James makes the point here that God is good all the time. In fact, the English title, “God,” is derived from the German word for “good.” God’s nature and character and ways are all good. WILLIAM TYNDALE said it well: “God’s goodness is the root of all goodness; and our goodness, if we have any, springs out of his goodness.” God is good all the time. James 1:16-18 defends, declares, and demonstrates the goodness of God.
I. THE GOODNESS OF GOD DEFENDED
Verse 16 issues a stern warning: “Do not be deceived, by beloved brothers.” This verse is a bridge between what James says about the nature of temptation in verses 13-15 and the character of God in verses 17-18. Both ideas are closely connected. There is an insidious connection between misunderstanding God’s ways and indicting God’s character. So James issues a word of admonition with a word of affection.
A. A WORD OF ADMONITION
James commands, “Do not be deceived.” Do not err. Do not be misled. This Greek verb means to stray or wander away from truth, safety, or virtue. It is the picture of one who is on a journey that is led astray, so that he does not reach his destination. It is the picture of a sheep that wanders off from the shepherd and the flock and becomes lost. It is the picture of a ship that drifts off course and becomes lost at
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