Summary: James tells us that God centered planning can make our life worth living.
Having just finished telling his readers about the need for them to avoid the wisdom of this world that is hostile to God, James gives a practical example on how to approach life in a different way than the world does. (READ TEXT)
Verse 13 illustrates the planning of one who has not thought to consult God. Note the thoroughness of his planning: His schedule for what he has planned - “Today or tomorrow”; His location for what he has planned - “this or that city”; The duration of what he has planned - “spend a year there”; The activity he has planned - “carry on business”; The result he has planned - “make money.”
Now, there is nothing wrong with making plans.
“A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.” - Proverbs 16:9 (Amplified)
Our Lord made plans.
“The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit.” - Luke 10:1 (NLT)
Jesus had plans by which He lived; but notice how those plans were developed.
“But Jesus replied, ‘My Father is always working, and so am I.’ So Jesus explained, ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by
himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.’” - John 5:17; 19 (NLT)
In the same way, we need to walk with the Father so that we might catch hold of the vision He has for us and then plan accordingly.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
- Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
Now, James shares three rules about properly planning for tomorrow.
1. Avoid pride - v. 14
We are what we are by the grace of God alone. Therefore, we mustn’t be prideful about our abilities or plans, but trust humbly in God.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” - 1 Peter 5:6 (NIV)
The focus of one who is humbly walking with God isn’t on themselves, but God. Our focus must not to be “what’s in it for me” but “where is God leading and how do I follow?”
The reason why too many believers today do not experience much of God is because they are living their lives with the focus being on
themselves and “what’s in it for me” rather then living with their focus on God by asking “where is God leading and how to I follow?” It was living with His focus on the Father that enabled Jesus to say:
“I have glorified You down here on the earth by completing the work that You gave Me to do.” - John 17:4 (Amplified)
The degree to which this will be said of us will be determined by whether or not we live with our focus on God or on ourselves.
Two key principles to God-centered living:
“Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” - Psalm 37:4-5 (NKJV)
A. What I delight in will develop my desires - v. 4
If I delight in myself, I develop selfish desires; if I delight in the world, I will develop desires. If I delight in the Lord, I develop godly desires.
B. Who I depend on will determine my destiny - v. 5
God will not only show me what things should be priority in my life, but how I should go about addressing them; and as I give priority to those things god has in mind for me, my life will be lived to the full!
A story is told about a professor who stood before his class and took a large empty jar and filled it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He asked the students if the jar was full. They said, “yes.” He then picked took pebbles and poured them into the jar. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. Then he asked if the jar was full. They chuckled and agreed that it was indeed full this time. He then took sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining open areas. “Now,” he asked, “Is the jar full?” Again, they answered, “Yes.” Finally, he took water and poured it into the jar. It willed in between the grains of sand. “Now,” he said, “This jar is full.”
This story is used to speak about priorities - the rocks are the important things in life, the pebbles, things of lesser importance, the sand, the trivial things, and the water, even less important things. But how does one know how to prioritize and organize the things of life? The key is the professor! In this story, he represents Christ, who said: