Fourth Sunday After Easter: A Good God Who Gives Good Gifts


 A rich business man and a prominent attorney were traveling around the world. They saw many impressive sights, but agreed that something they saw in Korea was most impressive of all the world.

One morning as they walked along a country road in Korea, they saw a boy pulling a plow which was steered by an old man. It amused the attorney so much that he insisted on taking a picture of the scene with his little pocket camera. Later he showed the picture to a missionary Priest in the next village, remarking about the peculiar sight of a plow being pulled by a boy with a driver.

"Yes," said the Priest, "it seems like a very strange way to plow a field, but I happen to know the boy and that old man well. They are extremely poor. However, when the little church was built here in the village, they wanted to contribute something. They had no money. They had not grain to spare and winter was coming, so they sold their ox and gave the money to the church building fund, and now, minus the valuable animal, they have to pull the plow themselves."

The men looked at each other for a moment, then the attorney said, "What a an astounding sacrifice! But why did you allow it?"

The missionary priest said, "They did not feel that it was a sacrifice. They regarded it as a great joy that they had an ox to give to the Lord's work."

As good of a gift as that was to that little mission, I know of one who has given even better gifts to us! The Apostle James speaks of this gift as well in our Epistle reading this morning.

“Every good gift, every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.” (v. 17) 

Everything Good Comes From God

Everything good in this world ultimately comes from God. If it’s good, God made it, he gave it, or he sent it. The words of what is known by many as the Doxology state this very plainly: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

I wonder if we really believe that. Do we realize that “in him” (that is, God) “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28)? Do we understand that we are alive right now because God wants us alive? We breathe because he gives us air to breathe and lungs to take it in. If God withdrew his hand of blessing, not one of us would take another breath.

We ought to ponder Paul’s question in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “What hast thou that thou hast not received?” Do you boast of your accomplishments? Who gave you your talents, your strength, your health? Who gave you the blessings you take for granted?

The Gentle Rain From Heaven

James emphasizes this when he says that every good and perfect and best gift “comes down” from the Father of lights. William Shakespeare reminds us from the play The Merchant of Venice that “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.”

These famous lines are true in every way. Mercy always comes down. It starts with God and moves to man, it begins in heaven and ends on earth. You don’t bargain for mercy because to make a bargain you’ve got to have something worthy to offer. Think about it. What do you give a God who possesses within Himself every quality, ability, and supernatural command with never-ending measure. What can I offer He who's every attribute or mighty and wonderful power is His endlessly. God wants for nothing and lacks nothing; He is complete, and we have nothing to offer Him who is sufficient in himself.

Mercy is indeed like the gentle rain that softens the hard soil of the human heart.

What kind of God do we serve? He’s completely good. He’s constantly good. He’s unchangeably good. God will never not be good. God could never be less than good. Everything he does is good.

Growing up, I would be in churches where they do a call-and-response that goes like this:

The Preacher would say: God is good.

Then the Congregation would say: All the time.

And then the Preacher would say: And all the time.

And then the Congregation would end with. God is good.

Someone once said their church did that in a slightly different way. They said it in five parts, one for each finger on their right hand. It went like this:

God is good.

All the time.

In every situation.

No matter what.

God is good.

You should hold up your right hand and say that right now, touching each finger in turn. Once you do it, it will stick in your mind.

I've been told that in some churches in Nigeria, after saying “God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good,” the congregation says in unison, “I am a witness.”

That’s really good because it brings the truth home. It’s one thing to say “God is good” as an abstract statement, almost like a theological cheer for the home team. It’s even better if you think about those other statements, “In every situation” and “No matter what.” But best of all is to make it personal by adding, “I am a witness.”

Sometimes it’s hard to say. Even when we think we know what will happen tomorrow, life can turn on a dime. No one knows what a day may bring forth. That’s a solemn fact. Life is not just one thing. It’s good and bad, sickness and health, weeping and rejoicing, life and death, war and peace, all mixed together.

That’s why we need a God with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration. He is the constant in our changing world. He is not good today and bad tomorrow. He does not change his mind and decide to be kind today and harsh tomorrow. He is not given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior. We are the ones like that. God is not.

When you are tempted to give up, remember the goodness of God.

When you feel like giving in to temptation, remember the goodness of God.

When you want to resign from life, remember the goodness of God.

God is good.

All the time.

In every situation.

No matter what.

God is good....and all of us can say that we are a witness of his goodness.

"Every good gift, every perfect gift and every best gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration." (James 1:17)

Fourth Sunday After Easter: A Good God Who Gives Good Gifts