13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. ~ James 4:13-17
Today, we find ourselves at the end of James 4 which deals with the will of God for our lives. In Psalm 40:8 we read, "I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart." There is nothing more characteristic of a believer in Christ than our desire to do His will. This does not mean we will always do it, but the desire is there; and when we fail to do it, there’s a sense of failure.
In v.13-14 of today's passage we read, "13 Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."'
In these two verses, James quotes those who do not live their everyday life from the stand point of those who are gaining God's wisdom, and, as a result, they are not being defined by God. These are those who live as if this world is all there is to it. They are not cognizant of eternity, and they are not known to operate in this life out of a personal relationship with God.
This person runs his own life foolishly ignoring God and showing utter disrespect for His sovereignty. His fatal flaw is the presumption that God's will is not paramount. When we plan as if we know everything, and we have no need for God's omniscience, omnipotents, we are more vulnerable of the enemy who wants to undermine God in our lives.
In Proverbs 27:1 we read, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." Life is too complicated to live it without God in the equation. When we live a day void of our awareness of God, we are in greater danger of being taken over by arrogance. When we ignore God on a given day, we not only ignore the existence of God’s will, but we also miss out on the benefit of it.
We gain great confidence when the sovereign God who knows all things is at the helm of our lives. This is why God gave us Proverbs 3:5-6 which reads, "5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
In v.15 of today's passage we read, "Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'"
Life boils down to one simple phrase: The Will of God, which is that we grow in an intimate relationship with Him, and that through our lives He expresses Himself for the benefit of others. To know Him and to make Him known is truly the crux of His will for all of us. Knowing Him and making Him know provides the ripple effect in and through our lives which results in us realizing God's best in all areas of our lives because it is from this approach to life that we gain His wisdom.
In v.16-17 of today's passage we read, "16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them."
To "boast" literally means "to arrogantly brag." This word was used of people who, in a public place, peddled their phony goods. It was used in James day of charlatans who duped people into buying their products. At the end of v.16, James wrote: "All such boasting is wicked."
This word is also used of Satan, the original sinner who sought to replace God. It is not until we see the wickedness and utter dangerousness of ignoring God that we will repent of its complete foolishness. In fact, it is when our lives goes bad in some way that we really get serious in following God. The better part of wisdom is to follow Him as best we can at all times.
It is most alarming when we agree that God exists, and we agree that God’s will is best for our lives, but we just flatly don’t yield to the will of God. This is James' point in v.17. When we know the will of God and we do not bend our will to it, it is in opposition of God.
The true believer lives out his life with a plan that has God at the center. The true believer is the one who seeks God. The true believer is the one who has a heart to obey God. And sure, there are times of disobedience, but down deep in our heart is that longing to do that which His will dictates. Submission to His will is basic to living the life the Lord Jesus died to give us. This is yet another test of living faith. To desire to do God's will is a good sign that we are His children.