I used to ask a nonsensical question that had an absurd answer. The answer is “apple,” which did not logically connect with my silly question. The dumbfounded usually wanted an explanation and I willingly obliged. However the reasons were as strange as the question: “Because a vest has no sleeves” and “one leg is both the same.”
After reading James 1:17, I thought I was the one being duped with a dose of my own medicine. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
In this section of verses (1:13-18), James wrote to correct an erroneous doctrine among first century Christians. Somehow they came to believe that God is the source of temptation. In verse 17, James is very clear that God does not “lead us into temptation,” as he learned from Jesus. James says exactly the opposite, that God is the Giver of every good.
But his reasons seem to be as bizarre as those I gave to my silly question. James said that God is the Giver of only good because “the sun’s light varies” and because “the sun-dial’s shadows change.” Do you see what I mean? His explanation makes as much sense as “being up the creek without a ladder.” What does James mean?
When James says, “with whom there is no variation,” he is saying the sun’s light varies daily but God doesn’t. The sun shines daily. Clouds, seasons, and even the earth’s rotation contribute to the sun’s appearance. James helps us look at God’s character to see that God’s holiness (that He is good) makes it impossible for Him to be the tempter of man. Why is it important to know that God doesn’t change? Here is just one answer. Because God doesn’t change, the evil person can’t blame God, saying he was tempted by God to see if he would repent or go deeper into sin.
When James says, “or shadow due to change,” he is comparing shadows on a sun-dial that mark time with the timeless God. At night there is no shadow on the sun dial from the sun, but that doesn’t mean there is no sun. James wants us to know that God does not cease to give. By His nature, God has always given. He is giving now and will always give eternally. Why is it important to believe that God only gives good? Here is one more answer. Because God only gives good, the righteous person can be assured when the circumstances of life are less than pleasant that he is not being tempted by God to see if he will endure or give in and turn away from trusting and following Him.
Don’t let your doubts about God’s role in temptation persist. He has never tempted us to act in an evil way and He never will.