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.
In the Christmas season, do you spend a lot of time thinking (and stressing) about finding the perfect gifts? That’s ok—admit it! Don’t pretend that all you do is meditate on baby Jesus. If that were the case, you wouldn’t have to be reminding yourself constantly of the real reason for Christmas. I can remember some fabulous Christmas gifts I have received, but I can also think of some that were disappointing. My husband and I got a good laugh our first year of marriage when he bought me several nice clothing items, but they were all one size too small. I appreciated the compliment, but I had to return them all.
God’s gifts are always perfect. God gives good gifts. Recently I have been preaching that phrase to myself quite frequently. Every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17). Good can mean benevolent, profitable, and useful. The word, perfect means whole, or complete. It can also mean goal, or purpose. God’s gifts are profitable for us, and designed to accomplish his purpose. They are designed to mature us. They are tailor-made and guaranteed to fit.
His gifts are material and spiritual. He gives you what you need (food, clothing, and somewhere to live), and He gives you the Bible, your spiritual food. He also desires to give you the gift of spiritual growth, or maturity. God gives good gifts all the time. James knew that this vital truth would be difficult for even Christians to accept, because in the previous verse he warns: Do not err [do not be deceived], my beloved brethren (James 1:16). James warns you not to be deceived into believing that what you want for your life is better than what the Lord wants to give you. And this is where you may get tripped up: the gifts God gives you may not seem good to you because they often come from life experiences that are very difficult. (Psalm 119:71).
In the beginning, everything was good; in fact, it was very good (Genesis 1:31). But when sin entered the world (Genesis 3), the world wasn’t good anymore. Sin permeated all of creation. But God promised to restore his entire creation and make it good again. The earth won’t be redeemed until later, but right now he is making his people good again (Romans 8:28–29). Through Jesus Christ, he is restoring what has been lost in the Fall (2 Corinthians 5:17). He is making you complete and mature. But often he accomplishes this work by giving good gifts in the form of difficult losses and adversity. These may seem bad to you, but they are good, because they cause you to be more like Jesus.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7–8, Paul describes one of the Lord’s gifts to him as a thorn in the flesh. Nobody knows for certain exactly what the thorn was, but we know it was difficult to bear, and the purpose of it was to keep Paul from becoming proud (v. 7). Who would want a thorn? Paul didn’t want it, and even asked the Lord to take it away three times:
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
In the verse that follows (2 Corinthians 12:9), Paul reveals to us the Lord’s answer:
And he [the Lord] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Instead of taking away the thorn, the Lord provided some marvelous gifts to go with it: His own sufficient grace, strength, and power! The Lord is teaching us that his grace is enough, and his strength can best be shown against the backdrop of your weakness.
What good gifts has God given you this past year? A difficult boss? A rebellious child? Prolonged sickness or a shocking medical diagnosis? The death of a loved one? How about conflict in your home, your work, or your church? Do you face daily financial pressures, or an unloving spouse? None of these is a gift you would ask for. But remember that with His gifts come His own sufficient grace, strength, and power. He knows what you need to become more like Jesus, and He gives good gifts to accomplish His purpose in you (1 Peter 5:10).
God gives good and perfect gifts. They are benevolent, profitable, and useful. Even if you don’t want them. Do you believe that? This year let’s not stress about what gifts to give or what we might get. Instead, may we all remember to thank God for loving us enough to give us Jesus, the unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15). And let’s also thank Him for the good and perfect gifts we don’t necessarily want, but really need—all year long.
 Spiros Zodhiates, The CompleteWord Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG, 1992), 62.
 Ibid., 1372.
Dr Marshall & Mrs Gretchen Fant
Gretchen Fant has a BA in French from the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC and her master’s degree in education from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. Gretchen is a certified counselor with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). She serves in the counseling ministry of Harvest Baptist Church in Rock Hill, SC and is an Associate Counselor for Selah International Counseling Ministries. Gretchen is the wife of Dr. Marshall Fant, III, the Director of Church Planting and Revitalization with Gospel Fellowship Association in Greenville, SC. The Fants have five children and twelve grandchildren.