The Work of God's Spirit
James 1:17-18
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss…

This text, I believe more and more every day, is one of the most important ones in the whole Bible; and just at this time it is more important for us than ever, because the devil is particularly busy in trying to make people forget God, to make us acknowledge God in none of our ways, to make us look at ourselves and not to God, so that we may become earthly. He puts into our hearts such thoughts as these: "Ay, all good gifts may come from God; but that only means all spiritual gifts. We are straightforward, simple people, who cannot feel fine fancies; if we can be honest, and industrious, and good-natured, and sober, and strong, and healthy, that is enough for us — and all that has nothing to do with religion. Those are not gifts which come from God. A man is strong and healthy by birth, and honest and good-natured by nature." Have you not all had such thoughts? But have you not all had very different thoughts; have you not, every one of you, at times, felt in the bottom of your hearts, after all, "This strength and industry, this courage, and honesty, and good-nature of mine, must come from God; I did not get them myself. If I was born honest, and strong, and gentle, and brave, some one must have made me so when I was born, or before. The devil certainly did not make me so, therefore God must. These, too, are His gifts!" Let us go through now a few of these good gifts which we call natural, and see what the Bible says of them, and from whom they come. First, now, that common gift of strength and courage. Who gives you that? — who gave it to David? For He that gives it to one is most likely to be He that gives it to another. David says to God, "Thou teachest my hands to war, and my fingers to fight; by the help of God I can leap over a wall: He makes me strong that my arms can break even a bow of steel." That is plain-spoken enough, I think. God is working among us always, but we do not see Him; and the Bible just lifts up, once and for all, the veil which hides Him from us, and lets us see, in one instance, who it is that does all the wonderful things which go on round us to this day, that when we see anything like it happen we may know whom to thank for it. So, again, with skill and farming in agriculture. From whom does that come? The very heathens can tell us that; for it is curious, that among the heathen, in all ages and countries, those men who have found out great improvements in tilling the ground have been honoured and often worshipped as divine men — as gods; thereby showing that the heathen, among all their idolatries, had a true and just notion about man's practical skill and knowledge — that it could only come from heaven; that it was by the inspiration and guidance of God above that skill in agriculture arose. Again, wisdom and prudence, and a clear, powerful mind — are not they parts of God's likeness? How is God's Spirit described in Scripture? It is called the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of prudence and might. Or, again, good-nature and affection, love, generosity, pity — whose likeness are they? What is God's name but love? Has not He revealed Himself as the God of mercy, full of long-suffering, compassion, and free forgiveness; and must not, then, all love and affection, all compassion and generosity, be His gift? Yes. As the rays come from the sun, and yet are not the sun, even so our love and pity, though they are not God, but merely a poor, weak image and reflection of Him, yet from Him alone they come. Or honesty, again, and justice — whose image are they but God's? Is He not The Just One — the righteous God? Are not the laws of justice and honesty, by which man deals fairly with man, His laws — the laws by which God deals with us? Now here, again, I ask: If justice and honesty be God's likeness, who made us like God in this who put into us this sense of justice which all have, though so few obey it? Can man make himself like God? Can a worm ape his Master? No. From God's Spirit, the Spirit of Right, came this inborn feeling of justice, this knowledge of right and wrong, to us — part of the image of God in which He created man — part of the breath or spirit of life which He breathed into Adam. From whom else, I ask, can they come? Can they come from our bodies? What are they? — Flesh and bones, made up of air and water and earth — out of the dead bodies of the animals, the dead roots and fruits of plants which we eat. They are earth — matter. Can matter be courageous? Did you ever hear of a good-natured plant, or aa honest stone? Then this good-nature, and honesty, and courage of ours must belong to our souls — our spirits. Who put them there? Did we? Does a child makes its own character? Does its body make its character first? Can its father and mother makes its character? No. Our characters must come from some spirit above us — either from God or from the devil. And is the devil likely to make us honest, or brave, or kindly? I leave you to answer that. God — God alone is the Author of good — the help that is done on earth, He doeth it all Himself: every good gift and every perfect gift cometh from Him.

(Canon Kingsley.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

WEB: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow.

The Unchanging God
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