“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17
The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “variable” as not consistent or having a fixed pattern – liable to vary.
In 2017, I asked my son Dwight to order a car for me, small and sport-like. When the car arrived, I went to Customs to pay and pick up the car. Yes, he did show me a photo of the car, but I always knew the VW Golf to be small, so when the employee brought the car and I saw it, I was surprised and he assured me that it was my car. But, I thought it was small and not wagon size, and then the color red – wow! Now, Lord you know how these people does think, me driving a red car! Anyhow red is for the blood, but what always stayed with me ever since was the name of the model of the car – Variant. This letter of James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, is addressed to the 12 tribes scattered abroad. There were a number of men named James in the early church such as James, the father of Judas; James the son of Zebedee; and James the half-brother of Jesus. Because of the language of this letter, through acquaintance of the Old Testament and its wisdom and Jesus’ teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, it is believed that the writer was Jesus’ half-brother.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is telling Christians how they should behave – and be strong and vibrant messengers of the word. He places emphasis on the conduct of believers in keeping with their professed faith in Jesus, and not just being Christian on Sunday displaying kindness, gentleness, and giving – and once they leave the precincts of the church, the behavior is the opposite.
“Change!” – what a word. We were friends in primary school, but now you have many college degrees and have climbed the ladder of success, but you ask me my name even though I brought extra lunch for you, in those early days. We were lovers and became husband and wife, and I sacrificed for you to graduate from university and now you tell me you are looking up and moving on.
Today, James is reminding us that there is no changing with God. He is still the God of yesterday, today, and come tomorrow; he will remain the same. That well-loved hymn of the church written by Nahum Tate (1632-1716), “Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy, the praises of my God shall still my heart and tongue employ.”
If you have not learned the words of this hymn, during the period of Lent be challenged to memorize the verses. Every good gift and every perfect gift come from above, and cometh down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation, neither shadow of turning.
When the pandemic began, the keyword was COVID-19, but now we are hearing about “variant”. COVID-19 has “blossomed” into something greater and more fearful than its beginning. So, dear father, the intrigue of the model of my car, “Variant” is a bigger version of the Golf as I knew it. Indeed, intrigue was the shape of things to come. Jeremiah 33:3 tells us, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Many times, we are going through difficult times and experiencing unexplained situations, it is not because God changed, but we changed. We moved away from the faith that moved mountains for us; abandoned the synagogue where our family worshipped; looked down on the less fortunate and withheld outstretched hands to the poor and needy. We were so sweet when we met the love of our life, but now we say they are not worth mingling with. Change! Better or bitter?
If you have not been resolved to do away with some of the negatives in your lives, that are truly hindering you from receiving multiple blessings from God, it is not too late to pray, “Change and decay in all around I see, But thou who changest not, abide with me, leave me not and be my constant companion.”