Journeying through James 1:16-18

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 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. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:16‑18 (NIV)

James want to impress on us that God is in no way responsible for human sin. He is a good and loving Father, who never changes. He is the source of all good. The picture that James gives is of the heavenly bodies wandering in the universe; while God is constant, faithful, unchanging.

At the same time, however, He warns us: “Don’t be deceived…” (v.16), and in the context, I immediately thought of astrology. When I was a kid, I had a friend whose mom practiced astrology; and people would pay her good money for a professional reading. Astrology is founded on the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies such as the sun, moon and planets.

God, who set the planets on their changing paths, wants us to appreciate that He never changes. People can be easily be led to put their faith and hope in an elaborate system created by human beings. To most, astrology seems like just a harmless curiosity, but beware of its subtle deception, astrology is a lie that draws us away from our loving Father God.

God’s purpose, for us who believe in Him, is that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He has created, a new creation in Christ. The word “firstfruits” in Hebrew referred to the first portions of grain and fruit harvested (bread, Ex 23:16; grapes, Num 13:20; figs, Nah 3:12). This portion was given to the Lord as a thank offering, and it was also given to support the priests (cf. Lev 2:14; Num:12–13).

God has created you in Christ to give Him thanks and praise, and He also wants our lives to be a blessing of love and service to one another.