Boasting about your worldly plans is ridiculous. They’re always tentative. The problem addressed in verse 13 is that many Christians live like God doesn’t exist.
Verse 13 illustrates independent planning that displeases God. He wants to be Lord in every area of your life. The spiritual person seeks to know God’s will and recognizes dependence on God. Are you a practical atheist regarding work, recreation, social life, TV viewing, or income tax reporting? Do you try to fit God into your plans, or do you continually adapt your plans to His?
Your plans for the future always have an asterisk because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Verse 14 condemns every device to determine the future apart from God. The track records of those who attempt it prove, “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow” (James 4:14, NIV).
Life is like the fog. It’s short-lived. It’s unpredictable. You can’t foresee the time or manner of your death. It’s foolish to plan your life as if you were independent.
Verses 15–17 describe your obligation to acknowledge God. "If it is the LORD's will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15, NIV). Each day is a gift to be used wisely. It could be your last. No machine can hold back your spirit when God summons it.
Your work also depends on God. Your plans are like eggshells. Unforeseen circumstances easily crush them. God overrides the plans of even the strongest, most fruitful Christians. You aren’t indispensable. Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, drowned in a New York Lake at 50 in the midst of a fruitful ministry.
You’re like an infant tethered to God by an invisible umbilical cord which sustains your life and work. Every breath, every heartbeat is a gift from above. James 4:15 doesn’t remove your responsibility to plan. It undercuts independent planning.
So, should you punctuate your plans with “If the Lord wills?” That can become a meaningless cliché. The opposite extreme is to live as if God doesn’t exist. You need a balance. When stating his future plans, Paul used “if God is willing” in Acts 18:21 and 1 Corinthians 4:19, 16:7. But he didn’t in Acts 19:12, Romans 15:24 or 1 Corinthians 16:5, 8.
Verse 17 (NIV) states a conclusion: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.” Verse 15 clearly spells out that it’s right to include God in your plans. The sinfulness of not doing what’s right separates the sheep from the goats at the last judgment. (Matthew 25:31-46). God condemns loveless religiosity. Wise people plan to show love to the least of Jesus’ brethren when they have the opportunity. That’s always God’s will! #freechristiandiscipleshipresources#freeevangelismresources#freechristianleadershipresources
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