James 4:13-16, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”
Self-confidence. It’s all the rave these days. Even from a young age, we’re taught, “just believe in yourself.” We’re told that if we believe in ourselves, we can accomplish our dreams. Anything we desire! Who can forget watching Space Jam while the song “I Believe I Can Fly” played in the background? I thought that if I truly believed, I could do anything…even fly.
For Christ’s followers, this advice leaves out a very important and game-changing detail: the will of God. What if my dreams don’t line up with God’s will? What if God has other plans for my life? What if God’s plan for me goes down a self-denying path that is not easy, comfortable, immediately gratifying, or angled toward worldly gain?
The Lord teaches us in this passage that presuming upon His will is arrogance. We can make plans, but we don’t even know what tomorrow holds. Our life is a mist that’s here for a short time then vanishes. Instead, we are to understand that God is the one who sovereignly rules over our life. He made us and sustains us moment by moment. Therefore, we ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will do this or that.”
Now, it’s easy to say a few words to relieve our conscience or to quench a superstitious feeling. That’s not the purpose. These shouldn’t just be empty words, but rather the disposition of our heart. Like Jesus’ prayer, the motto of our life is “not my will, but Thy will be done.” Scripture informs us that our outlook on life should be a constant recognition of God’s working. We do not get to make plans independently of Him, nor should we want to. Proverbs 16:1 states, “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.”
People might make plans without considering God, but if we truly believe in an all-powerful being, who is also just and loving, wouldn’t we look to Him for guidance? Do we realize that He sees what we can’t see and knows what we don’t know? If we chart out the direction of our life without considering and seeking the Lord’s desire, then we’re functioning like an atheist. Vs. 16 tells us that doing so is boastful, arrogant, and evil.
God’s children are called to believe that God is who He says He is: all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving. We demonstrate such faith by seeking and trusting His will for our lives. We may not like His plan initially, or we may have desires to go another route. His will may be difficult, but He leads us down the path of righteousness, true joy, and lasting peace. Indeed, God’s will for His people is good and not drudgery.
Most importantly, His will leads to Him being honored in and through our lives. God is not glorified when His people march to a drum of glum and despair. Instead, He’s glorified when we enjoy Him and serve Him with gladness!
Trust God and seek His will for your life! No doubt, He is in a better position to guide our lives- He is God. His will is perfect…and, so is His love for His children!