“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 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. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:16-18
Our Father God is a good, good Father who delights in giving gifts to His children. Not just any gift – good and perfect gifts. The best of the best. God does not hold back from us.
Jesus shows us this principle during the Sermon on the Mount, where He taught “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11
God delights in giving us good gifts. He does not skimp or get us cheap off-brand gifts. He gives us the best gifts. When we ask for bread He won’t tell us to make do with stones. James warns us not to be deceived, for there are those want to limit God, who want to say He only had gifts in the past, or He only has gifts for a select few elite, or that you have to earn His favour. We must not be deceived. God’s gifts are gifts – they do not have to be earned (which is a relief, for we could never do enough to deserve them). God is the same yesterday, today and forever – there is no variation or change with Him. He is constant, and that means His characteristics remain the same. So we can take hope that if in the past He gave good and perfect gifts to His children, He will do the same today.
So what are the gifts God wants to lavish upon us? Romans 3:23-24 reminds us that first and foremost God’s first gift to us is justification by grace, through the death of Jesus on the cross. That is the most important gift we need to receive from God – the free gift of eternal life. And while it is a free gift, it cost Jesus everything to give it to us. Salvation is a gift – we do not deserve it, and we cannot ever hope to earn it. And if that was the only gift God had for us that would be more than enough. But He has even more for us.
Through the Holy Spirit God pours out an abundance of gifts and blessings upon us once we accept Jesus as our Saviour. He gives us these gifts to empower us to serve Him and reach others with the good news of the gospel – we are blessed not for our own benefit, but in order to be a blessing to those around us. These gifts include wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, preaching, hospitality (see 1 Corinthians 12-14).
Paul reminds us that “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it the same God who empowers them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. The important thing is not what specific gifts you have been given, but that God gives us gifts for a reason – to use for the common good, to point people to Jesus. So rather than getting caught up in longing for certain gifts, get stuck in to using whatever gifts God has blessed you with (knowing that He definitely has blessed you through the Holy Spirit with gifts for “to each is given”) in order that we may point those around us to the word of truth.