The other day we were flying over Lake Superior and I was looking at the clouds below us. Even the wispiest of them cast shadows on the water–dark blotches that appeared to be islands.
Shadows move and change. The shadow of a tree when the wind is blowing brushes the ground like a broom. Shadows can drive a hunter nearly mad with frustration: Is it an ear? An antler? A branch? Where is it now? Shadows can make a photo portrait appear either dramatic or sinister.
James writes about this in James 1.17, and makes the point that the good gifts we receive come down from the Father of lights, who never shifts like the shadows do. When we know Him, we realize that He is not fickle or capricious or vindictive. His character does not change, and He does not vengefully withhold His goodness like a catty middle-schooler might. Certainly, James never saw his older half-brother, the Lord Jesus, act that way.
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. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
In the Scriptures, the character of God is connected very often with light. At creation, His first command was, “Let there be light.” It wasn’t until Day Four that He created the heavenly bodies, so the original source of light was God Himself.
The psalmist wrote, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (PSA 27.1a)
John the Apostle wrote in the first chapter of his gospel, “[John the Baptizer] came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.” (JOH 1.7-10)
Later, in John 8.12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
James makes a connection between this idea and the one that follows in verse 18, which we’ll consider next time. What we understand from this text, though, is that God is constant and reliable. There are no shadows with him.
A shadow is cast when something gets in the way of the light. God never does that–He is the light. John also wrote, “…God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 JOH 1.5) God cannot deny Himself, and, as the Father of lights, He cannot obstruct the path of His own glory.
But I can. If I get in the way of His light, I cast a shadow on my own path and on the path of anyone near me.
James knew Jesus never did that.
Image is from nypost.com