17a Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.
In the earlier verses, James has taught his readers that God does not send temptations of sin. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (1:13). He also said that sin and death originate from our own lust that entices us (1:14-15). So he warned that no one should err concerning the truth that evil proceeds not from God, but from our own lust (1:16). Having declared unmistakably that temptations do not come from God, James now asserts that every good gift and perfect gift is from God above.
The word “gift” that appears two times in our text is translated from two different Greek words (dosis and dōrēma). However, they both point to that which is given to us by God. God’s gift to us is good, without any taint of evil. It is also perfect, without any flaw or defect. They truly reflect the goodness and holiness of the Giver. In its origin and in its bestowing, the gift of God is good and perfect. We, therefore, know that anything that comes as a temptation of sin cannot be from God.
Every man walking after the flesh is filled with much temptations and lust, and is desperately in want of good and perfect things. But God is most delighted to grant us that which is good and perfect as a “gift”. The good things which we cannot produce or achieve on our own, He will give to us as gifts. How wonderful it is that God bestows on His people good and perfect gifts, which they do not deserve or are able to have them on their own! Every pure and perfect influence on the soul comes directly from God. The holy desires, passions and pursuits are divine bestowments in our hearts. Christian virtues are bestowed upon us by the Divine Spirit. Divine promises, counsels, rebukes, corrections, instructions and commands are all His gifts from above.
Now, one might be prompted to ask: “Is everything God gives good?” "Does not He give us trials, sorrows, sickness, bereavement and death? Are these good gifts?” As Romans 8:28 assures us, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” He who is “the Father of lights” will fill our lives with His abundant goodness as He dispels all sorts of dark and dreary feelings, thoughts and deeds. His Word and His Spirit will give us light.