In 1885, a Russian czar commissioned Carl Fabergé and his family jewelry business to create a special Easter gift for his wife. They designed a beautiful white egg, inside of which was a gold “yolk.” Inside of that was a golden hen, and inside of that was a miniature diamond crown and a tiny ruby egg. Known as the “Hen Egg,” this was the first of 50 such jeweled eggs created over a span of 32 years as royal gifts.
Gifts from God are much more beautiful and valuable than Fabergé eggs! As James wrote, “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (v. 17; see Matt. 7:11). Thus far in the epistle, we can see that His gifts include the ability to persevere under trial, wisdom to take an eternal perspective on trials, the process of growth whereby trials can lead to spiritual maturity, and the crown of life awaiting those who successfully endure trials.
By starting today’s reading with “Don’t be deceived,” James underscores that we shouldn’t misunderstand God’s character (v. 16). He doesn’t tempt us to sin, for that’s contrary to His holy nature. He’s not trying to trick us into falling. He’s on our side. When He sends trials, it might not feel that way, but He truly has our best interests at heart. This is an unchanging reality. The sun and moon wax and wane, but He is their Creator and “does not change like shifting shadows.”
God’s best gift is, of course, salvation in Christ: “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth” (v. 18). The “birth” is spiritual rebirth, that is, being born again. The Jewish believers to whom James wrote were indeed “firstfruits” in that they were the first believers in Jesus—the early (earliest!) church. From saving faith to mature faith, it’s all a gift of our loving Father!
If you’ve never accepted God’s gift of salvation, do so today! Read the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3. That’s the context for the most famous summary of the gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”