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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 62 - James 1:16, 17 - The Father of Light and Love Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The Father Of Light And Love.


     "Do not err, my beloved brethren. 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 1:16,17.



     The writer of this epistle has two special forms of address in it,-'brethren,' and 'beloved brethren.' As a Jew writing to Jews, he felt the closeness of the brotherhood, the kinsmanship. Both in the flesh and in the Lord they are 'brethren.' Hence the frequency with which he uses the word. But he conjoins with this 'beloved,' as when here he warns and exhorts; so that each such warning may come as the message of love, not of pride, or anger, or austerity, or self-will.

     The warning here is against 'erring,' going astray, making mistakes; and the special point respecting which they needed warning was the character and the ways of God. Our text is not a mere general exhortation, but has special reference to the misapprehension or misconstruction of God, pointed out in the 13th verse. Here we are warned,-

     1. Of our liability to err.-The tree of knowledge has borne bitter fruit. The intellect is off its balance. It craves gratification, but is not particular as to what it gets. It seizes error quite as readily as truth, nay, error is the more congenial of the two. Our mind is not merely finite, but defective, dark, rash, biased. We are very liable to make mistakes, specially on religious matters; for they are not only things beyond our reach, but they are more or less influenced by our natural enmity to God.

     2.  Of the danger of so erring.-It is no trivial thing to err. A man may not err and be guiltless. All such error, all misconstruction or misapprehension of God, is fraught with evil and infinite peril to the soul. It imperils peace and salvation.

     But the 17th verse comes in to obviate or correct any such misapprehension. God is the doer and the giver of good, not of evil. We are to connect all His doings and givings with Himself, and to beware of separating between the two. Let us mark the meaning of the words; each is striking.

     'Every;' not some, but every,-all without exception,-'good gift,' or 'giving,'-referring to the act of giving, or to the feeling of the donor.

     'Every perfect gift,'-the thing actually given, the gift. All kind or good giving, and every perfect gift, is from above, not from beneath, not from earth, not from the creature at all,-it 'descends;' and from whom? from Him who is Father,-Father not of darkness, but of light, nay, of lights, of everything that deserves the name of light, or can be symbolized by light. And there is no dark side of His character; both sides are equally bright; He is bright all over. With Him there is no variableness, nor shadow produced by turning to us another side, such as in the case of earth or moon.

     I. Let us not misjudge God.-Let us not give way to hard thoughts of Him, as if He sought our injury. He is no austere man, but kindly and loving. Let us not draw any such misjudgments from the Bible; from our own experience; from the experience of others; from our ignorance of His ways. All unbelief is misconstruction of God; it is denying that God is gracious, that God is love. Such misjudgment wrongs Him grievously, and profits us not,-nay, does us unspeakable harm. It is sin, the worst of sin,-the sin of blaspheming the true God, or of worshipping a false. It is a fearful thing to misapprehend or misjudge God.

     II.  Let us connect His gifts and Himself.-Let us interpret Himself by His gifts, and His gifts by Himself. Let us not look suspiciously on His gifts, as if He did not mean all the love which they imply, or as if He did not mean to speak to us in giving them. Let us take the sunshine, and say, It is for me; it is good, and it means God is love; I will connect it with Himself and rejoice in Him because of it. I will take it as a help to faith, as a rebuke to unbelief. So with the flowers; so with our daily food and raiment; so with our health, and all that each day brings to us.

     III.  Let us look to Him as the Father of lights.-God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. He is light; yes, He is the Father of 'lights.' This is good news to us. He is just such an one as a dark sinner can go to,-suitable to him, just because there is such light in Him.  It is the darkness of earth that makes the sun so suitable. So with the Father of lights. He is altogether suitable for us.

     IV. Let us rest on Him as the unchangeable One.-There is no caprice, no variation with Him. What He was in the first promise He is in the last. What He was in the first century He is in the nineteenth. What He was to the first sinner He is to the last. There is no darkness in Him; no dark side of His character that only frowns on us. Even His righteousness and greatness are on our side. There are 'beams coming out of His hand,' light from His holiness and majesty shining to us. Let us take Him and trust Him as He is. Let us not judge Him by our frames or our changes. Let us take His own account of Himself. That is a foundation which cannot be shaken. Let faith rest there.