After dwelling on the bad extreme of sin, James switches to effusively describing the good: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Notice that he chooses the word gift over the alternatives of thing or experience. All good things come from God, and all good and perfect things are gifts. Though a seemingly trivial substitution of words, understanding something as a gift changes one’s attitude toward it. When something is earned or owed, there is less reason for gratitude to the giver; some would even say a “thank you” would be superfluous in such situations. But when something is gifted, especially to someone who has no other way of gaining it, humility and joy rush to the surface.

All of these good gifts come from one Source. Parents, friends, or even strangers may be conduits of these blessings and gifts, but their origin never wavers. The joy of a new baby’s life, the gentle breeze on a summer evening, the opening of a young flower, laughter shared throughout decades of friendship, and the joy of a fulfilling purpose all are gifts from God, given through the merits of another Gift.

The best and perfect gift ever given was and is Jesus Christ Himself. He was not owed to the earth, asked for, or even conceived of in humanity’s imagination. He was a gift from the Father’s hand out of a love-driven desire for the redemption of earth (John 3:16). Just as it was impossible to merit a Savior before He came, so it is impossible to merit His grace, mercy, or forgiveness today. All the blessings in His train are as much gifts as He is.

Some have framed the salvation story as Jesus somehow convincing the Father to let Him go and save the earth. But this is not the narrative of Scripture. The Father has consistently been lavishing humanity with gifts since the dawn of time, and He has no variation in this (James 1:17). Furthermore, it was “of His own will” that humanity was redeemed from destruction through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. He was not strong-armed into it; there was no begrudging compliance. Thus, beyond being loved, the creatures made in His image are wanted. They are wanted not only once but twice over: through creation and redemption. Being wanted and enveloped in such a Divine love is the gift that encompasses all the others.