Summary: Message 21 in our study of James. This message deals with the need to include a passion for God's will over my own when making plans for the future.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Faith’s Response to God’s Will”
The book of James is all about living our life with genuine faith in God. James describes the kind of life the one who claims to live by faith lives.
I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-27
Joyfully endure – continued endurance produces maturity and stability.
II. Faith’s response to partiality and prejudice 2:1-13
Love others as ourselves
III. Faith’s True Nature 2:14-26
Believe God and behave godly
IV. Faith’s response to conversation 3:1-12
Control your speech
V. Faith’s way of life 3:13-4:12
VI. Faith’s Response to God’s will 3:13-17
Discern and do the Lord’s will
We live in a world that values autonomy, independence, self-sufficiency, free will above all. People make decisions on their own interests. People pursue what pleases them. Unfortunately, that human value distorts true Christian values. Even though we appreciate Jesus’ prayer in the garden yielding His will to the Father’s will, few fully live that way.
As usual, James pointedly exposed more twisted thinking.
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. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17
At first glance I thought James was addressing the tendency to presume upon the future. Then I realized that James’ admonition went much deeper and touches a tendency to make life choices based more on what we want than what God wants. He exposed the human tendency to self-sufficiency. He addressed his admonition to those who make plans giving little attention to what God wants. “Come now!” indicates a call to serious consideration.
The Bible clearly teaches that genuine faith motivates service, sacrifice, seeking God’s will before mine, denying self, suffering, pleasing God, obedience to God’s ways, following God’s ways, yielding personal rights, dedication, humility. Yet the much of the teaching we often hear today is all about self-fulfillment, personal blessing, success, personal dreams, escape from suffering, health, wealth, feeling special. Come to Jesus and He will provide such and such. Come to Jesus and He will fix what you messed up through selfish living. Rather than us yielding to God’s will, we are told that God is here to give us the desires of our heart. Personal ambitions come before kingdom purposes. James was clear about prayers focused on personal ambition.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3
Such a focus becomes clear by a simple examination of our calendars and our checkbook. Do our plans and daily activities reflect what God wants or what we want? Does our spending reflect what God wants or what we want? Paul clearly communicated his attitude.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ Philip 3:7-8
James does not imply planning is wrong. He urges us to make sure we consult God concerning those plans. He advises us to include God in our plans. He counsels us to be sure God is the object of our plans. One of the problems with buying on credit is the presumption on the future. We think we will be around to pay it off.
We assume we will have a job. We assume we will be able to work.
James again draws attention to the uncertainty and shortness of life.
You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
James again demonstrated his familiarity with Proverbs.
Boast not yourself of tomorrow; for you know not what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1
He already alluded to the shortness of life earlier regarding the rich man. There he used the frailty of grass in a heat wave to illustrate the truth. Here he used the fleeting nature of a mist or steam or vapor. We have only a limited time to live a life pleasing to God. “Oh, I will get serious about my walk later.” There may not be a later. Most of us have experienced the tragedy of a life cut short.