temptation was a self-
confidence making of plans, but in a way that didn’t acknowledge or submit to the
sovereignty of God. I can definitely put myself in the sandals of those believers on this particular issue.
There’s a strangeness to waiting that puts one in a constant feeling of limbo. You just never seem to
know for sure what you should do. One day you think you get some clarity on something and you beginto pursue it. Then a day or two later it all turns foggy as the very nature of transition and its variouselements begin to cloud your thinking. The strong confidence you had about something one day turnsto a wishy-washy feeling of doubt, confusion and discouragement one or two days later. One day you
think you’re going to go here or there, and within the week it’s so totally changed and you knoweveryone’s looking at you thinking you’re so flaky and you can’t make up your mind.
James knew this was definitely going on the minds, hearts, and lives of his dear people. So he wrote tothem about it, and we find it in the final verses of chapter 4 in his letter.
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow
we are going to a certain town and will
stay there for a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know
what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog
it’s here a littlewhile, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such
boasting is evil.
Wow. That hits me like a rock from David’s slingshot, right between the eyes, dropping me hard,
down on the ground…which is where I need to be anyway. When our mission with the church planthere was completed, I distinctly remember telling our core group, “We’ll be moving on up to Atlantalater this summer, even if we haven’t sold our house yet.” Unbelievable. I fell right into tha
t trap. Theair was thick that night with my pride and self-confidence. I wanted to lead these people well, and Iwanted to be a model of someone who was well-thought-out on the matter, and had already lined up aplan. What an idiot.
There was not a hint that night of a submission to and trust in God’s sovereignty. James 4 was nowhereon my “radar.” There was just evil boasting. What a way to lead people, huh? But we’ve repented
since then. Thank God for grace, right? He has forgiven us and given us many more opportunities in the
last three months to obey that passage in James and to truly mean it when we say, “If the Lord wants usto, we’ll move to Atlanta this summer, hopefully before school starts,
Lord provides a job for me.”
I’ve tacked phrases like “Lord willing” on the end of my plans for years. But I’m not sure I
it…or deeply understood the implications. Several verses before, James told his people, “
God opposesthe proud, but favors the humble
” (v. 6). There’s the root of the teaching. Pride stimulates us to makeplans without regard to God’s sovereignty. Humility reminds us of our place in God’s bigger picture.
A Reminder of How God Leads
It’s funny to me that James was writing to Jews. By far they are a race of people with
most rich,spiritual heritage in world history. The average Jew heard the Old Testament and its stories andteachings
more times than any Christian today would have ever heard the Bible preached and
taught. No doubt there were “nominal” Jews who just lived their lives with no regard for God or His
word. But overall
, the average Jew would have a pretty good picture of where they came from. So it’s
funny to me that the Jews James was writing to wouldn’t have remembered their heritage