When a blessing doesn’t look like a blessing

“Don’t be deceived,” James warns, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father … who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:16-17).

Some are indeed deceived. They mistake the temporary gratification of sin for a blessing “from above.”

After all, the pleasures of adultery are undeniable. Revenge can bring quick and cheap gratification. Crushing someone else by gossip or hurtful words can bring a kind of pleasure.

But these gifts are not from above. They are not “good and perfect gifts.” They are tainted and tarnished and temporary.

Then there are those blessings that don’t appear to be blessings at first. James has already pointed out how trials can bring blessings such as “faith,” and “perseverance,” and spiritual “maturity” (James 1:3,4). The gift of loneliness lies in the fact that it makes us seek the fellowship of God. The gift of failure makes us understanding of others who fail. The gift of sorrow makes us better able to sympathize with those in sorrow.

Not every gift looks alike. Don’t be deceived. Trust the father, who is not capricious, who does not lash out because he’s “having a bad day.” He doesn’t, and you can count on it, even the trials are a sign of his love.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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