James left no doubt about the fact that God is the giver of all that is good. James cautioned, “Do
not err” (James 1:16). The Greek word translated “err” means “to go astray” or “to go off course.”
It was used to describe a ship that had been driven from its course and was in severe danger. So
James was not referring to making a minor mistake but to making a serious error in judgment that
could have awesome and terrible results.
Notice that James did not say “every great gift” but “every good gift” (v. 17). It does not matter
whether the gift is large or small, anything and everything that God gives is good. Sometimes the
one under severe trial might question whether everything that comes from the hand of God is
good, but James assured such a person that he never needs to question this. Keep in mind that
James was referring to gifts—things that are not obtained by merit but purely by God’s grace.
James stressed that the kind of gift of which he was speaking “is from above” (v. 17). Here James
contrasted the things of heaven with the things of earth. We are so easily entangled in earthly
affairs and so easily consumed with the desire for those things that do not last. We will not live on
this earth forever, so even our trials should be viewed in the light of eternity.
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue (2 Pet. 1:3).