God is good!

God is Good! – a sermon on James 1:16-18 by Rev Colin Pretorius

In the church-based TV show “Greenleaf” the characters greet each other with “God is good” and the response is “All the time”. Despite the fact that almost all of the people in this show are so “plastic”, so superficial, this customary greeting is nevertheless one of the great truths about the character of God – for He is good!

But you know, so many people question this. I’m sure we’ve all heard questions like

  • How can God be good if He allows all the pain and suffering we see in the world? or
  • How can God be good if He lets children die because of malnutrition? or
  • How can He be good if He allows wars and disease and poverty? or
  • How can you say that God is good if He is willing to send someone to a place of unimaginable misery and desolation, all for simply not believing in Him?

Sometimes these questions end with the statement “Either God is not good or He just doesn’t care!”

Often these questions come from people who have experienced traumatic events like the loss of a child or a loved one. And they are really struggling to come to grips with their loss and they wonder why it is that God is doing these things to them. Sometimes they waver and sometimes they get confused.

Just like the apostle Peter, James – the half-brother of Jesus – is writing to fellow believers who have been scattered across a wide area.[1]  They had to flee for believing in Jesus, and wherever these Christian Jews found themselves, they were subject to discrimination and persecution. Wherever these Christian believers found themselves, they came face to face with adversity, with trials, yes even with death. From the verses just before the ones we read this morning, it appears that some of these scattered believers even started to think that God was tempting and enticing them to do wrong.[2] James’ letter would not only have been a huge encouragement to those who were facing these various adversities but would also have set them straight about faulty thinking. In verses 13-15 James reminds these scatterlings of God’s nature. God is holy and perfect, and He cannot be tempted. And because He is holy and perfect, He never tempts anyone. And it is against this background of God’s holiness and perfection that we find our text for this morning. Having fiercely defended the nature of God, James now goes on to speak of the God’s ultimate goodness.

We’re going to look at our text under the following headings:

  • The great warning (v16)
  • The great Giver of gifts (v17)
  • The greatest gift (v18)

[1] James 1:1.

[2] James 1:13-15.