Summary: Many people in our culture are planners, in fact, our culture holds up planning ahead as an ideal. But what does the Bible say? Does planning ahead take God out of the equation?
A Search for What is Real: Getting Ahead of Ourselves (James 4:11 – 17)
Have you ever had a decision and didn’t know what to do? Maybe it had to do with a career choice, which college to go to, who to date, whether to get married, buy that first house, start a family. All of us at different times come a fork in the road, all of us have decisions we have to make everyday. Sometimes we know the right answer, other times we don’t. What about the time when both decisions seem to be right? Ever have that situation?
We all come at decisions in different ways. Some of us are planners. Planners can tell you what is going to happen, when it will happen, who will be there, everything is planned to the T. others of us just let things happen, we are more flexible about things.
Maybe you are a goal oriented person, you don’t do anything unless it is attached to a goal. You may think in terms of I want to lose 20 pounds by this date, I want to get my Master’s by the time I am 35. I want to buy my first house in 3 years. We will start having a family in 5 years. One statistic said that 70% of Americans can’t get anything done if it is not attached to a goal. I don’t know how they determined that, but it sounds true.
Our culture holds up those of us who plan as the ideal. When you were a teenager or in college you were always asked, “What are you going to do with your life?” And this question is important because your mom would go on to tell you that “you can’t spend your whole life playing Nintendo in the basement.” The ideal and responsible thing is to have a plan, goals, know where you are going, how you are going to get there. What this brings for us is security, a sense of certainty. We know when something will happen, we feel in control. In fact, if you are a guy and aren’t sure what to do with your life, often, women find this very unattractive. You may even know someone whose family told her to dump a guy because he was “goofing off.”
It is no different among Christians. A lot of times, you might hear words like purpose, plan, calling, destination, God’s will as you talk about this whole idea of decision making.
Here is what I want to do today. I want to dive into this topic of God’s will. Is it possible to know God’s will? Does God have a will for us? What about planning? Should we make plans with our life?
I remember when I worked as a student pastor, I would hear students say all the time, I just wish I could figure out God’s will for my life. In fact, I would have parents come into my office and ask, can you help my son figure out what God’s will is? I would get questions like, do you think God wants me to go to this college? Does God want me to marry that guy? Does God want me to go on that missions trip? Does God want me to take that job?
I started to wonder, are you supposed to know God’s will. Is it something we should have readily in front of us, like a potion? Shake this up, God’s will comes out. Whole books are written on this topic. Many of them say, if you follow these three steps, you will know God’s will for your life. I must be stupid, but I can never get those 3 steps to work.
If you have your bibles, you can open them to the book of James, chapter 4. If you grabbed a bible in the lobby, it is on page 871.
James has just got done talking about are place in the world, in the beginning of chapter 4, which we looked at last week. This is what he says in verse 11: 11Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? 13Come 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"-- 14yet 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. 15Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.