James 1:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 1:17, NIV: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

James 1:17, ESV: "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, KJV: "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."

James 1:17, NASB: "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, NLT: "Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow."

James 1:17, CSB: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

What does James 1:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the previous verse, James urged his readers not to be deceived. Emotions and sinful thinking can trick us into turning away from God. It's important to cling to the truth, which is that every good thing in our lives is a gift from God. In the midst of our trials, we are tempted to change our opinion of the trustworthiness of our God. We start to make lists of all the things we think we are missing in our lives, of all of the things we have lost. If God were good, wouldn't we have those things?

This attitude leads to even more temptation. We begin to look elsewhere for the good things we think we're missing. "If God won't provide them," we think, "we'll have to go and get them for ourselves." We attempt to take control. We struggle to find our own satisfaction.

Now, however, James urges us to flip the typical human script. He calls us to make a new list: all the good things we do have. Where did all those good things come from? James is encouraging believers in Christ to tell themselves the truth: God gave you every single good thing in your life. He is the source of all the good you have and all the good you crave. Who God is does not change when our circumstances change. He doesn't go from being a good God to a bad God when our trials began. He is still the source of all the good in our lives; He never changes.

James also uses a play on words in this verse, referring to God as the Father of lights, or "of heavenly lights." He is the source of the light. The sun can never be in shadow. At times, shadows may fall on us, but He is ever and always light. If we turn away from Him, we go only deeper into shadow. Turning from God in order to escape hardship is as ridiculous as hiding from the sun in an effort to escape darkness. When faced with ordeals, we should seek the one who can make all things new.

What does it mean to remain faithful in hard times? It means continuing to acknowledge that God is the source of what is good in our lives, and what will be good in the future.