Proper perspective about God amid trials, John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church. Hamburg

Bible study material on James 1:16-18

Our previous study of James 1:9-15 focussed on developing proper perspective in trials and temptation. Today’s lesson continues that theme by studying James 1:16-18. In this passage, James orients the reader towards a proper perspective about God’s nature (James 1:16-18). James urges the believers in Christ not to be deceived about God’s nature and thus goes on to give some thoughts about God’s character.

The urge not to be deceived (James 1:16)
In James 1:16, James establishes a personal relationship with his audience by calling them brothers and sisters to precede his warning that they are not to be deceived. It is most probable that it is common to be deceived when we are in difficult times. The reason being that God’s true character and nature are not so obvious in trial circumstances neither do they tell us the truth about ourselves. James then goes on to tell us the truth about God in three (3) ways:

God gives true and perfect gifts (James 1:17)
To James, it is God’s nature to give good and perfect gifts to God’s children. In other words, since God is described as the father of heavenly light, darkness which is symbol of temptation doesn’t represent him.

God does not change (James 1:17)
James again describes God as someone who does not change. Since God does not change, we are to trust God even in difficult times. In a form of simile and in an antithetical parallel sense, God does not change like shifting shadows. Shadows change because they depend on light rays. But God doesn’t change, because God depends on none other than Godself. The idea of God not changing is described in Malachi 3:6. Thus, God is worthy of our trust at all times including our dark moments.

God chooses to give us birth though the word of truth (James 1:18)
Since James wrote to the believers in Christ who he describes as brothers and sisters, he continues to describe them as people whom God has chosen to give birth. This new birth was made possible through God’s word which is described as the word of truth. To James, therefore believers in Christ who he further describes as firstfruits of all God created are to see themselves as products of God’s (sovereign and loving) choice and the word of truth.

In today’s lesson, James advices us to develop proper perspective about God when going through difficult times. During trials, instead of blaming God and thereby falling into sin as deceptive tool of the enemy, James reminds us that God is the gracious heavenly father who bestows only good and perfect gifts. God does not change in nature. God uses even our darkest moments for our good by God’s sovereign choice and goodness (Romans 8:28). We are therefore to be thankful to God in all life’s circumstances.

1. Under what circumstance can a Christian be deceived about God’s nature?
2. Identify any four (4) good and perfect gifts in your life that you can attribute them to  be God’s provision.
3. How far do you agree to the statement that, “God does not change, but he changes in his ways?”
4. How can a person experience a new birth in Jesus?

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