Sunday Devotional: James 1

“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

Coming off of Thanksgiving and remembering all the blessings we have received, it’s good to be reminded of that.  It’s also good to be reminded of all the things we have been given.  The gifts given to us is not just our needs (food, shelter, clothing) but also the beauty of creation, gift of friendships and relationships, and other fun things (like sports, hobbies, etc.)  There are a lot of good things out there that we have been given.

However, it is important to remember that the gift is not the end all but the giver of the gift.  Creation and all that is involved is good but the Creator is so much better.  It is important to not let those gifts that we have been given by God take the place of God.  He doesn’t change, He is always there to rely on and He is loving and cares about me and you.

So as we shift from Thanksgiving season into the Christmas season, may we continue to give thanks for what has been given to us and to celebrate the One who blesses us with good gifts and not worship the gifts but the Giver.

The Reason for Giving

Last night, I watched the newest episode of How I Met Your Mother.  One of the interesting plot lines that played out through the episode was the back and forth between Ted and Marshall and Lilly.  The back and forth centered around wedding gifts and thank you notes.  Ted had allegedly not given Marshall and Lilly a wedding gift years earlier.  Marshall and Lilly had allegedly not given Ted a thank you note.  It was brought back up with the impending marriage of their friends Barney and Robin.

Throughout the episode, there were flashbacks about how Marshall kept trying to “drop hints” to Ted to get him to give a wedding gift.  Meanwhile, Ted would do the same about a thank you note.  In the end, the truth came out that Ted did in fact give a wedding gift to Marshall and Lilly.

The thing that stuck out to me about the episode was the motive behind it.  Both sides felt they deserved to get something (Marshall and Lilly a wedding gift, Ted a thank you note).  But truly, when you give a gift or write a note, you should not expect something in return.  That truly is what a gift is.  Giving with no expectations of getting something in return.  Thanking someone’s generosity with no expectation of acknowledgement in return.

That’s the awesome thing about grace.  God gives us grace when we don’t deserve it.  He is the best example of giving.  He gave of His Son to die on the cross.  Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins is a reason be thankful and to share that.

It is always good to be reminded that it is important to know the reason behind giving and what that should be.  As a follower of Jesus, I know that He gives me the ability to give selflessly.  And that is something that I’m still working on in my life.