“Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”
James 4: 15
James 4: 13-17
The two deep truths in this short passage that I wish to focus on have been shown to be stark realities in our current circumstances; the arrogance of assumption and the fragility of life. We have gotten used to planning ahead with utter confidence that what we state will occur will indeed occur as we ordain or desire. Connected with that is our frustration, even anger, if things do not turn out as planned. There is nothing wrong with planning, good planning is wise and sensible. The potential problem links to the underlying issue of control that can grow into a subtle arrogance within us. It can lead to a self-sufficiency that says we do not need God. If the pandemic has shown us anything it shows us how quickly our supposed control on life and situations can be thrown out of the window. We were created to live in a relationship with God, enjoying Him and giving Him glory. In this life God calls us to submit to Him and trust in His will. James says that to live without this relationship, denying His existence, is a position of arrogance (vs. 16). He sets this issue in the context of making money and carrying on businesses (vs.13). Again, nothing wrong in either activity, both are essential to society. The issue is of doing so without reference to God. This truth however is relevant in every aspect of our lives.
To emphasize his point James highlights the fragility of life and the fact that our lives are in God’s hands (vs. 14-15). I used to live near an estuary with marshland and bird life. I loved walking there with my dogs early in the morning because in amazing arrays, mist would form and dissipate over the waters; truly beautiful. James likens our lives to such mist, beautiful but brief, vanishing very quickly. We are reminded of this truth in harsh ways at the moment, but there is hope; very real hope. Instead of being self-sufficient and going our own way for the brief period of our existence we are called to live for God and His will (vs. 15). This submission blesses and leads to eternal life; yes, life forever in the relationship we were created for. Failure to live this way can lead to the ‘sin of omission,’ (vs. 17).
Life is a beautiful gift and it is meant to be far more than a brief ‘mist.’ Instead of allowing our lives to be burnt off by the sun why not let the Son, Jesus Christ, work in us allowing the Father to burn off the dross of our lives so that the beauty of our lives becomes eternal; ever growing, ever blessing. In this sense there is no worry for tomorrow because eternity is taken care of; a big picture that gives hope in the finite and challenging realities of today.
To Ponder: Consider these truths and perhaps read Matthew 6: 25-34. How can your plans, principles and fears better reflect God’s will and the reality that He can hold your future?
To Pray: Eternal Father, whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to heaven that He might rule over all things as Lord and King: keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, and bring the whole created order to worship at His feet; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
To Praise: Resurrecting Elevation Worship
I know who holds tomorrow sung by Melinda Hill
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.