James 1:16, 17
Do not err, my beloved brothers.
The exhortation of ver. 16 introduces additional confirmation of the truth that God cannot tempt men to sin. He is the Author of all good. He not only abhors evil, but from him come those gracious influences which destroy it. Three shades of thought appear in the argument of ver. 17.
I. CONSIDER HIS GIFTS. Each of these is "perfect" in its matter, and "good in the manner of its bestowal. While raw sins (ver. 14) and ripe sins (ver. 15) alike spring from one's own lust," "every good gift and every perfect boon is from above." All temporal blessings come from God; and even in this lower province his bounty is supreme. But especially he is the Author of all spiritual blessings - every good gift of grace, and every perfect boon of glory. Jesus Christ came down from heaven. The Holy Spirit is from above. Ministering angels descend the stairway "whose top reacheth to heaven." The regenerated are born from above (ver. 18; John 3:3). The graces of the new life are from God: e.g. wisdom, to bear trials (ver. 5); single-mindedness, to rise above outward circumstances (ver. 8); steadfast endurance of temptation (ver. 12). And, at last, "the holy city, new Jerusalem, shall come down out of heaven from God." It is impossible, then, that God, the universal Benefactor, can be in any way responsible for a man's sin.
II. CONSIDER HIS WORKS. He is "the Father of the lights." What a splendid title! and how suggestive of the purity of God! He is Light in his own nature, and he is Light in all his relations to the universe. He made the starry lights - to which, indeed, the expression seems primarily to refer. He is the Author of all intellectual and spiritual illumination - all Urim and Thummim, "lights and perfections." "The first creature of God in the works of the days was the light of the sense; the last was the light of reason; and his sabbath work ever since is the illumination of his Spirit" (Lord Bacon). Thus Jesus Christ, as Mediator, is "the Light of the world;" and, in relation to the absolute God whom he reveals, he is "Light of light." His people, again, are "children of light;" they reflect the luster of the Sun of righteousness. In God "is no darkness at all;" but sin is darkness, so it cannot proceed from him. He is only "the Father of the lights."
III. CONSIDER HIS NATURE. The expressions in the last two clauses have almost an astronomical savor. They have evidently been suggested by the mention of the upper starry lights. The thought which they present is that, while God is the Creator of sun, moon, and stars, he is not subject, like them, to revolutions and mutations. "With him can be no variation;" literally, "parallax." Parallax, in astronomy, denotes the apparent displacement of a star from its true position; but with "the Father of the lights" there can be no parallax, no real change of place or purpose. "God is always in the meridian." The shadow of the Almighty is not "cast by turning." Astronomy treats of the revolutions and eclipses of the heavenly bodies; while piety reposes upon the unchangeable-ness of the eternal Light. Being in his own nature immutable, God will be "bounteous still to give us only good." He never has been, nor could be, the author of sin.
1. Be grateful for God's gifts.
2. Admire his works.
3. Rejoice in his faithfulness.
4. See that these sentiments fructify in holiness of life. - C.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Do not err, my beloved brethren.