James 1:5-8 – The Exceeding Generosity of God

James has an arrangement of words in the original which can scarcely be reproduced in an English translation, but which may be partially represented thus: ‘Let him ask of the giving God.’ That represents not so much the divine giving as an act, but, if I may so say, as a divine habit. It is just what the Prayer-book says, ‘His nature and property is to have mercy.’ He is the giving God, because He is the loving God; for love is essentially the impulse to impart itself to the beloved, and thereby to win the beloved for itself. That is the very life-breath of love, and such is the love of God. He is the ‘giving’; and He is the blessed God because He is the loving and the giving God. Just as the sun cannot but pour out his rays, so the very activity of the divine nature is beneficence and self-impartation; and His joy is to grant Himself to His creature, whom He has made empty for the very purpose of giving all of Himself that the creature is capable of receiving.

[And] ‘He gives to all men liberally.‘ That is a beautiful thought, but it is not the whole beauty of the writer’s idea. The word translated ‘liberally,’ as many of you know, literally means ‘simply, without any by-ends,’ or any underlying thought of what is to be gained in return. That is the way in which God gives. People have sometimes objected to the doctrine of which the Scripture is full from beginning to end, that God is His own motive, and that His reason in all His acts is His own glory, that it teaches a kind of almighty and divine selfishness. But it is perfectly consistent with this thought of my text, that He gives simply for the benefit of the recipient, and without a thought of what may accrue to the bestower. For why does God desire His glory to be advanced in the world? For any good that it is to Him, that you and I should praise Him? Yes! good to Him in so far as love delights to be recognised. But, beyond that, none. The reason why He seeks that men should know and recognise His glory, and should praise and magnify it, is because it is their life and their blessedness to do so. He desires that all men should know Him for what He is, because to do so is to come to be what we ought to be, and what He has made us to try to be; and therein to enjoy Him for ever. So ‘liberally,’ ‘simply,’ for the sake of the poor men that He pours Himself upon, He gives.

Oh, brethren! if we only believed that He is not an austere man, gathering where He did not straw, and reaping where He did not sow, but a ‘giving God!’ If we only believed that He gives simply because He loves us and that we need never fear our unworthiness will limit or restrain His bestowments, what mountains of misconception of the divine character would he roll away from many hearts! What thick obscuration of clouds would he sweep clean from between us and the sun! We do not half enough realise that He is the ‘giving God.’ Therefore, our prayers are poor, and our askings troubled and faint, and our gifts to Him are grudging and few, and our wisdom woefully lacking.

Alexander Maclaren

Read James 1:5-8 and consider the abundant generosity of God to among all his many gifts to bestow wisdom on those of his children who ask. Do you ask of God for wisdom or other attributes that would display God’s glory through their use? What stops you from doing so?

O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer by Sovereign Grace

Posted on: March 19, 2020 - 10:00PM

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