It happens all the time. We work hard towards a goal. We gain a mastery of our jobs or careers. We begin to believe the hype. I’m pretty good at this, maybe even the best we say. And then it happens. A mistake is made. We are brought back down to earth. It is a very humbling experience, but it is also a wonderful way to help refocus our eyes on the God who provides all good things. Sadly this pattern can become a constant in our lives if we are not watchful. When God is in his rightful place in our lives, this pattern becomes less so, and becomes a much more rare occurrence.
The book of James speaks to us in so many practical ways. The wisdom of the book can be lived out on a daily basis in any number of situations, from how we view God and others, to the importance of controlling our tongue. So it is not a far-fetched idea that the book would speak of deception. James 1:16 states, ” Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.” The deception that this passage speaks of can be looked at in two ways. It is the deception that the world provides as it pertains to sin and view of God. But I also believe that it focuses on the deeper focus of self-deception that we battle on a daily basis. It is easy for us to view the good things; the hard work, focus, and drive that we have as abilities we control. In this we are deceived. They are God’s good gifts to us. Every success, win, and victory in life is directly attributed to God. When we believe that these things happen because of our own doing, we have already deceived ourselves. The warning of James in this verse is clear; do not be deceived by the world, and likewise do not deceive yourself.
Verse 17 speaks of the God whom, when we focus on Him, dispels these deceptions. The notion that God is the giver of all good things is solidified in this verse.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation
or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
Not only does this verse point us away from deception but it establishes God as the giver of gifts, the one who the effects of change and deception have no power. We need to take this to heart, to reflect deeply on this truth. When we do so, we are much less apt to deceive ourselves or others. We are much less likely to stumble into the temptation to believe the lies that are birthed from the world. We begin to see the truth that it is not us but God.
This section of scripture is tied together perfectly with verse 18. It points us to the will of God. He willed us out of the original deception with the truth of his Word.
“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth,
that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:18
Christ shines a light on the lies that we sometimes become entangled in. He saves us from the deception that is sin. He repeatedly shows us mercy and grace when we are deserving of neither. We slowly realize that it is Christ within us that produces the good around us. When we take complete credit for the good things happening in our lives we are robbing Christ of glory that can only be attributed to him. We deceive ourselves.
I am reminded again and again that the good things of this life are from God. It is when I become forgetful and over-confident in my own abilities that mistakes are made and I am humbled. This is one of God’s ways to correct us, to point us back to the one who has given us every good gift.
1. Do you find yourself often focused on your own abilities? Do you find you turn more to God during triumphs or defeats?
2. How do you look at the successes in your life?