James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Good and perfect gifts…?
What do we imagine as “good and perfect gifts” from God?
Going on vacation?
Getting that promotion?
Achieving a goal?
Good and perfect gifts from God we imagine as looking and feeling good. We know that God loves to bless us with gifts that are pleasant. He does!
But there are other gifts He gives to us.
The other gifts He gives to us, sometimes, are not so pleasant. In fact, they can be quite unpleasant.
But if they are unpleasant, then how can they be good and perfect gifts? They are good and perfect gifts to us because of the fruit that they produce in our lives when we surrender to His will and purposes in them.
In therapy, we talk about “therapeutic hurt” versus “vengeful hurt.” A therapeutic hurt is a benevolent and purposeful hurt, like taking away your son’s keys when he’s been drinking even though he lashes out at you. A vengeful hurt is mean-spirited and sinful.
God’s unpleasant gifts for us can be like therapeutic hurts (benevolent and purposeful) that bear the fruit of conformity to His image.
Let’s consider Calvary. What an extremely painful therapeutic hurt.
The Greek verb (figurative), “daka” (dak·kə·’ōw), means to crush, break in pieces, bruise, destroy, humble, oppress.
Isaiah 53:10 tells us that in the crucifixion, it was God’s will and pleased Him to crush His Son and make Him suffer. Although on the surface, it might appear as cruelty, far from it. Calvary was the Vinedresser producing perfect wine. In order for wine to be drunk, grapes must be crushed. Christ had to be crushed so that mankind could drink everlasting life.
Christ was crushed in the will of God to fulfill God’s purposes for Him in transforming the entire universe. His surrender brought forth everlasting fruit for God’s kingdom in two blended fragrances (2 Cor. 2:15): the fragrance of love and truth, and that of righteousness and peace (Psalm 85:10). As a result, Christ is now victoriously seated at the right hand of God with all power and authority, and has spread wide the doors of heaven for all mankind.
In the Garden of Gethsemene, Christ won the wrestling match with Himself by surrendering to God’s high calling for Him. Christ surrendered to unpleasant gifts, and we must as well. Do not be hesitant about wrestling over your unpleasant gifts. Like Christ did, we must pour out our naked souls before God until we surrender. Only then will we be empowered.
In my life, marriage has been the high calling where I was forced to surrender to God’s discipline and crushing. I am finally enjoying the fruit of all that labor. But there were seasons during the many years of seemingly fruitless labor when I fell into despair and unbelief asking God, if possible, to just take me home.
Like Christ, we as God’s children are disciplined and crushed in His purposes to spread His fragrance down through the generations to a dying world. It is an honor to be disciplined and crushed by God! In maturity, we receive a “good and perfect gift” from God when we allow Him to produce through us everlasting fruit for His kingdom.
God is into fruit, and as His children we must be mindful of it as well. Instead of focusing unduly on the temporary, unpleasant nature of daka, we must focus also on the eternal fruit that surrender produces. The “fruit focus” helps us stay on track in God’s economy.
When we imagine good and perfect gifts, let’s remember that they come to us in all kinds of packages. Let us have spiritual eyes to see the purposed fruit in the unpleasant gifts He gives us, and assume humility enough to receive them, giving Him the glory He deserves.
Ask God to show you a good and perfect gift in your life that is disguised in some unpleasant wrapping paper.
Will you allow Him to have His purposes though the gift, even if it’s unpleasant? Even if the growth it requires is painful?
Will you wrestle? Until you surrender to be empowered?
Or might you attempt to avoid His will and purposes for you?
Be prayerful in your decision. God is the master of checkmate.
Job 2:10 But he said to her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. We have also received good from God, and should we not receive evil?
1 Peter 1:6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
Isaiah 53:10-11 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer… After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied
Hebrews 12:5-11 And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him;
6 For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes.
7 You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not [thus] train and correct and discipline?
8 Now if you are exempt from correction and left without discipline in which all [of God’s children] share, then you are illegitimate offspring and not true sons [at all]. 9 Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we yielded [to them] and respected [them for training us]. Shall we not much more cheerfully submit to the Father of spirits and so [truly] live?
10 For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness.
11 For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness—in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God].
Matthew 7:20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which exhales] unto God, [discernible alike] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing
Psalm 85:10 Faithful love and truth will join together; righteousness and peace will embrace.
Matthew 26:28-29 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
Philippians 1:22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.
Hebrews 10:14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.