Every Good and Perfect Gift

Sunrise over the mountainsAs human beings, we have a tendency to compare ourselves with others. We want to be better or better off than those around us. If we do not believe that we are, we can become frustrated and unhappy. This is often true when it comes to our physical possessions. We want to have what the other guy has. We often compare ourselves to those who have as much or more than we do. But if we stop comparing ourselves with others and consider the blessings we have, we can easily see how blessed we are.

To keep things in their proper perspective, we need to remember the source of our blessings. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). God knows better than we do what is good for us. He has promised to provide us with our necessities if we follow His will (Matthew 6:25-34). But He has blessed us even above our necessities. He does so according to His will (James 4:15). We should not feel cheated if God blesses someone else more than He does us. Instead, we should be “giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God” (Ephesians 5:20).

Jesus taught that we must pray to God for physical blessings. He said, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). It may be true that God knows what we need before we pray (Matthew 6:8), but He expects us to ask anyway. If nothing else, it reminds us of our dependence upon God. We are to pray for Him to provide for our needs. As we noticed already, God will provide for us (Matthew 6:25-34). Elsewhere, Jesus reminded the people of the goodness of God as He pointed out the fact that earthly fathers will provide good things for their children – a fish instead of a snake, an egg instead of a scorpion (Luke 11:11-12). He then stated the principle that God will provide for us better than our physical fathers (Luke 11:13). “Every good thing” and “every perfect gift” comes from the Lord and we ought to pray to Him to provide those blessings to us.

One thing that we need to remember is our responsibility in this matter. We have already noticed that we have the responsibility to pray to God to bless us; but God does not promise to bless those who do not work to provide for themselves (2 Thessalonians 3:7-10). Paul reminded the brethren in Thessalonica of the example he set – not acting “in an undisciplined manner,” but “working night and day” to “not be a burden.” He then stated the principle: “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” Each one of us has a responsibility to work in order to receive material things (such as food). This does not contradict the passages we noted earlier. God is the source of our blessings and He expects us to pray to Him for the things we need. But He also requires us to do our part and work for these things.

However, we need to be careful not to place too much emphasis on material things. In the parable of the sower, Jesus told of some seed that “fell among thorns” (Luke 8:7). He went on to explain: “These are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14). Pursuing the things of this world can lead us away from the Lord.

The Israelites were warned about this same thing before going into the land of Canaan. God was “bringing [them] into a good land…in which [they would] not lack anything” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9). They were told the attitude they were to have. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you” (Deuteronomy 8:10). But a warning was given (Deuteronomy 8:11-14). The danger for them would come after they had taken the land and all sorts of physical blessings were multiplied to them. They were warned about what could, and eventually would happen to the nation in general: “Then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:14). “Every good thing” and “every perfect gift” comes from the Lord, but we are not to forget Him because of His blessings. Sadly, that often happens.

Instead, we ought to use the blessings God has given us to serve Him “so that in all things God may be glorified” (1 Peter 4:11). We must never take for granted all the blessings we have received from above. We should always remember that the blessings we have are from God, and give thanks to Him for all things.

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