There’s more to be said about discerning God’s activity in our world.
James tells us that every good thing comes from Him (1:16-17)—can’t we just say that all good things are God things?
We can if we’re saying that we recognize that He is the ultimate source of all our blessings. I think that’s not only an accurate assessment, but one that is conducive to our spiritual health. But when someone says, “It’s a God thing,” it’s my impression they’re saying something more. I understand them to be saying God intervened in some special way to bring something about.
That is not what James is saying. He’s making a general statement about God’s goodness, not detailing His special activity in the world. A preteen girl receives among other things, financial support from her parents. They are the source of her fiscal wellbeing. Now suppose that she gets an allowance which she saves to buy an overpriced pair of trendy shoes that her parents refused to buy. Does she get home, point to her shoes, and tell her siblings, “It’s a parent thing,” because they were the (ultimate) source of money for the shoes? Of course not. Although her parents were the ultimate source, it was clearly the girl’s choice. It’s one thing to say God is the ultimate source of all good, it’s something quite different to say He is the direct cause of something.
We fall asleep at night because God designed us that way. But He acted in a special way to cause the people in Saul’s camp to stay asleep while David and Abishai sneaked in and found the king. People going to sleep at night is not a God thing. The 3,000 soldiers falling into a deep sleep was (1 Samuel 26:12). How do we know all of this? The Bible tells us so! (If we need Scripture to identify God’s interventions, then shouldn’t it make us wary of doing so without the benefit of a clear word from God?).
Satan wants Jesus to jump off of the temple because Psalm 91 says the angels will take care of Him. “It’s a God thing,” Satan is saying. But it’s not. Jesus understands that while the Scriptures promise God’s watch over man, that does not include presumptuous acts on our part. We need to be equally careful about what we attribute to God.
It’s not unspiritual or unwise to speak of being blessed by God even though we might be uncertain the details as to how it was all worked out. But to speak as though we have an inside track with the Almighty so that we are able to label happenings as God things is in most cases, speaking beyond what we really know.