What Is The Meaning Of James 1:17? (every good and perfect gift)

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

The meaning of James 1:17 is both practical instruction and powerful encouragement. It challenges common beliefs that many followers of Jesus hold that simply are not true. Each of us should take these words to heart and apply them to our lives. 

As we read what the meaning of “every good and perfect gift” is, we will be challenged to not view ourselves as the provider, but rather to look to God for what we need. We will see God’s heart and how he provides for us. 

The Context Of James 1:17

To better understand and apply the James 1:17 meaning to our lives, we first need to understand the context in which it was written. 

This book was written by James, the half brother of Jesus. The purpose of this letter was to encourage young Christians to grow in their faith and warn against certain errors in their beliefs. This letter is very practical in its approach and gives a really easy to understand way to live out the Christian faith. 

In the first chapter, James introduces these topics and then launches into some of his introductory points. That’s what leads us to the words “every good and perfect gift is from above.” Now that we know the context, let’s look at the meaning of James 1:17. 

The Meaning Of James 1:17 

To help us better understand the every good and perfect gift meaning, we are going to break this verse down into three parts. This will help us see this verse in a new light so that we can apply it to our life. 

Every Good And Perfect Gift Is From Above” Meaning 

James here is making a bold statement: if it’s good it comes from God. Anything you have in your life that is good, that brings joy, that gives life, is from God. He’s given you that gift. 

Of course we should not confuse sin or temptations as good. Though they might seem good for a moment, they are ultimately destructive. It cannot be considered good or a gift if it brings death. 

We should also note that many take a good gift and turn it into an ultimate priority in their life. Money, sex, food, family, and many other good things have been twisted and turned into ultimate things and thus destructive in our life. 

The good gifts God gives us should be viewed as a blessing that turns us back to God. The gift itself is not nearly as important as the one who gave it to us. 

“Coming Down From The Father Of The Heavenly Lights” Meaning

James is further illustrating his point. These good gifts come down from the father. The meaning of James 1:17 is abundantly clear and a little repetitive. This drives home the point. Every good and perfect gift is from our father in heaven.

Any good father likes to give gifts to their children, our father in heaven is no different.

“Who Does Not Change Like Shifting Shadows” Meaning 

God does not change. Though the things of this world might change, God will not. If you think of a shadow it moves and changes depending on the light and the objects. But God is not like that; he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

Therefore the promise of this verse is just as true today as it was 2,000 years ago when it was written. Not only that, but it will be true tomorrow as well. 

God has good gifts he wants to give you. His promise is true and will not change. 

3 Lesson From James 1:17

Now that we’ve looked at the meaning of James 1:17 I want to give you three practical ways you can apply this passage to your life. 

1. We Are Not The Providers

We are often tempted to think that it is by our work that we accomplish and provide. But the Bible, and James 1:17, challenge this belief. It is God who provides. 

Anything good we have is because of God’s goodness towards us. You might think, but it was my skill, expertise, or handwork that provided. And that might be true, but who gave you those skills? Who gave you the time to develop that expertise? And who gave you the drive to work hard? All good things come from God

This doesn’t discount our work. But rather than elevating ourselves, we should elevate the giver of the gifts. 

2. Express Gratitude 

Since God is the giver of all good things we should regularly express gratitude. This can be as simple as listing the things we are thankful for around us. Something as small as a sunset or a conversation with a friend. 

When we express gratitude for the good things around us, we will start noticing God more and more in our everyday lives. 

3. Worship The Giver, Not The Gift

Far too often in our culture we worship the gifts, but not the one who gave them. The world is full of people worshiping money, sex, their kids, their possessions, their position, etc. All those things are good gifts from God that should cause us to look back to him. 

When we worship the gifts, those things that are supposed to be a joyous gift end up bringing destruction. And I’m sure we can all point to evidence of that all around us. 

When God gives us a gift it should cause us to be thankful for the gift, enjoy it, but not worship it. God should remain the center of our life, not the gift. 

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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