Do you know people who are ALWAYS talking about tomorrow? You have a hard time getting them to focus on what needs to be done today because they are always dreaming about or planning for tomorrow. Also, maybe they are the type that is always bragging about how they are going to do this and that in the future, but they never get anything done today. Their arrogance and presumption about the future can backfire on them and can be really annoying.
Or, maybe you are one of those people.
In James 4:13-17, we are warned to not brag about or make presumptions about tomorrow. Rather, we should submit our attitude and our will to the will of God. Hear the Word of God from James 4:
James 4:13-17 (HCSB)
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are ⌊like⌋ smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. 15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.
Planning is Good
When God says to not boast about the future, He is NOT telling us to avoid planning for the future. God-centered planning is good. Boasting is bad. Here are some examples of God leading people to plan, and then helping them to carry out that plan:
- Noah building the ark
- Moses leading the people out of Egypt
- The ant, described in Proverbs 6:6-11
- Nehemiah leading the rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem
What are the wrong attitudes as you look toward the future? They are found in James 4:13-16. They are the attitudes of pride and presumption.
- How would you describe the scenario that is described in James 4:13-16? What is the main point that these verses are making?
- Have you ever seen this played out in your life, by you or someone else?
- How does this passage give warning to boastful, arrogant dreamers or speculators?
- How could this passage warn people who are considering going into extraordinary debt, even if they “promised” a job in the future?
Moses dealt with this attitude in his own life. We see this played out in two different passages of Scripture. Read Exodus 17:1-6, which is the description of how God miraculously provided water from a rock in the wilderness at the beginning of the Israelites’ wilderness journey. He provided the water when Moses obeyed Him by striking a rock, just at the spot where an aquifer was located. Then, read Numbers 20:1-12 which describes an episode nearer the end of the journey. Notice how Moses’ attitude of pride and presumption (and anger!) caused him to disobey God. He thought he knew HOW God wanted to work in this situation. All God asked him to do in Numbers 20 was to speak to the rock. Rather than obey God, Moses took matters into his own hands, literally.
- Read Exodus 17:1-6 and Numbers 20:1-12. What do you learn from these verses?
The amazing thing is that God actually provided water from the rock, even though Moses disobeyed God. This shows God’s determination to provide for His people, sometimes in spite of us! Moses thought he knew HOW God wanted to get things done, but Moses needed to simply remember WHO gets things done (God).
In James 4:13-16, we see the right attitudes to have: humility, and submission to God’s will. Jesus was the greatest example of this attitude. We see this throughout His earthly ministry.
- Give some examples of when Jesus says He is submitted to the Father’s will.
- Give some examples of Jesus’ displaying humility and submission to the Father’s will.
- How can you follow Jesus’ example on a daily basis?
- How could saying, “Lord willing,” (v 15) help you stay focused on God’s sovereignty and help you stay in line with His will?
To Him Who Knows The Good He Ought To Do…
In James 4:17, we read a great verse of Scripture to put into practice: So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it. This verse speaks of the accountability we have to God for living a life of holiness, humility, and righteousness every day.
Some people think that living a Christian life is just about what you CANNOT do. But living a Christian life is more than that. Much more. It is about what you CAN do now that Jesus is the Lord of your life. God gives us opportunities to serve Him every day, opportunities to show grace and love and help to others. When we ignore those opportunities that is a sin.
- How can you live out James 4:17 on a daily basis?
- How does the entire chapter of James 4 help us to know the attitude to have as we live out James 4:17?