…From Whom All Blessings Flow

Have you ever thought about the first line of the Doxology?…Really thought about it? It says, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.”

I recently realized that I have had a stigma for a little while now about giving God credit for certain things. I am not convinced that the stigma is completely invalid or illegitimate, but I do think it might contribute to an unnecessary hesitancy towards something I could do with a little more confidence in my life of faith. I have, at particular points in my life (and some more than others), been exposed to people who seem to walk so closely with Jesus and have so much faith in the sovereignty of Almighty God that they attribute everything to Him. Where the rub comes for me is that most of the things they attribute to God involve themselves, personal little “blessings” no one else really seems to benefit from in the larger scope of God’s economy. From this self-referenced confidence in God’s ever active Providence in their personal life, they zoom out into the society around them and are further willing to attribute bigger things to God. Still other Christians claim God’s active role in such things as helping football players score touchdowns and finding a bottle of soap in an unfamiliar store while never really saying much about God’s activity in society at large or even on a global level.

In the past few years as I have gotten older, lived in a place or two other than my “hometown,” and experienced things like service in Hospice with death and dying, etc., I find it hard to affirm God’s active roll in things like “touchdown scoring” while at the same time admitting that there are immensely tragic things that seem to simply lack God’s preventative activity. So this is the source of my stigma in question. But the other day I was singing the Doxology in my bathroom (it’s true) and James 1:17 suddenly popped into my mind. James 1:17 says, “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.” I know…I italicized a lot in that verse. But look – EVERY (not just some), GOOD THING (good with no apparent stipulations), comes FROM ABOVE…FROM THE FATHER. So the question: is a winning touchdown good? Is finding that obscure grocery item or making it to a movie on time good? Hmmm…

Then I do what every good student of God’s Word does. I read the verse in context. I said above that “good thing” has no apparent stipulations. But, in the verses of chapter 1 before v.1:17, James is talking about circumstances and trials. His discussion is not lightweight. It is about persecution and hardship, not putting your shoes on or brushing your teeth. James makes an important point (apparently one his audience is struggling with) that we should not blame God for temptation or evil that we experience. And we should recognize that if anything good is present in our life – even if that “good” is humility brought about by extreme and trying circumstances – it is to be attributed to the source of all good Itself. For, there is nothing “good” outside of God. I think James would agree that even if something good exists in a way that seems to us to be apart from God (such as, say, a non-Christian doing a great moral service), I bet we could trace its origin back to God as the source of goodness, if for not other reason than He is the Creator of all things and nothing could exist without His Creating activity, but possibly even the fact that God can and does work through anyone and anything.

Still, I am challenged to realize that ALL good things come from the Father of lights, the God “from whom all blessings flow.” Even though James deals with some pretty heavy stuff, what if I do experience a small act of kindness? Perhaps I should give God more credit for the minuscule “blessings” in my life. After all, I’m not just trying to live any random life; I am pursuing a life in Him, in the One from whom all blessings flow. Just some food for thought as we head toward a holiday that could easily just be a mundane ritual of eating too much literal food ;)…

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