Tuesday, August 16, 2011

James 1:17 The Gifts of God

Jas 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

I like to make things.  I sew, crochet, and knit various useful and beautiful things. I make jewelry and photographs. I take pride in doing these things well, and am dissatisfied when something I am working on doesn't come out as I have envisioned.

I also enjoy being praised for what I have done. I am human in that! But God teaches a different attitude, one of thankfulness and humility. He pointed that out to me recently.

I had completed a knitted shawl in soft hand-painted wool. I was wrapped in it one morning recently, talking and praying with a good friend over the phone, and God showed me that I DID NOT MAKE IT ALONE. I did not raise the sheep, or sheer them. I didn't clean, spin, or dye the wool. I didn't just automatically know how to knit: my grandmother taught me when I was a young girl. I didn't design the pattern. You get the idea.

It is the same with "my" photography: I didn't create the light or the technology which makes photography possible. I didn't buy my camera, it was a gift from my husband. I didn't give myself the ability to see through the camera in order to make an image which others find pleasing. As my friend said when I shared this insight with her, I "just pushed the button."

So why am I so pleased when someone compliments me for something "I" have made? It can only be my fallen, human nature.

It is right to use what I have been given to the best of my ability, but it is wrong to take credit for what I have not done. God made the sheep, the grass they eat, the people who care for them. He made the light, the elements which are used to manufacture the camera, and the world from which its images come. He has given me gifts: people to teach me, eyes to see with, and a brain to process information. He deserves all the praise, not I.


  1. And the wise woman that you are you lift your voice to Him in praise and thanksgiving. I appreciate your sharing your insight.

  2. What if it's not your fallen nature but a really good, God given enjoyment of the work of your hands? There is a joy in making something and something beautifully holy about taking joy in it. It's not pride to do so. What greater praise of the creator could there be than for his beloved creature to really enjoy the gift he's given her? Of course we can't take all the credit, but YOU made that shawl. It's part of being made in his image.

    A couple years ago, I made a really complicated lace shawl for a dear friend of mine. It was the work of many months. I had to cast the thing on three times before I got it right, and it was more than 300 stitches to cast on. It was hard to learn the pattern, it was lace weight yarn on tiny needles. Whenever I see her wearing the shawl, I feel nothing but joy and the best kind of pride. It's not the kind of pride that thinks I'm all that and a bag of chips. It's the sort of pride that remembers the hours spent, the perseverance required, the love that went into it. It taught me many lessons about myself and about God. And when I see that beautiful thing, I am reminded of all of it. I enjoy the beauty of the thing itself. There is no part of me that feels a lack of gratitude or love for God in it. Part of my joy is the delight he takes in it as well. Eric Liddel said, "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure." God made you handy, and when you create, perhaps you are feeling his pleasure too. What if it isn't a sin to enjoy bringing joy to other people? What if you could just feel his pleasure? Because he certainly is pleased when we his children enjoy his beautiful gifts. Just a thought.

  3. Beth Ann,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. There is, indeed, legitimate pleasure in doing things well, if we give God the glory He is due. That is the issue. But when I accept men's praise, and neglect to praise God, I am in sin. That is what caused Herod's death, which is recorded in Acts 12:21-23. It is not a sin to enjoy bringing joy to others. It is a sin to take the praise entirely to oneself.


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