Summary: We know that we're not guaranteed tomorrow; so why do we live like we are?
1) Presumptuous judgments (vs. 13).
• Previously, James had warned against making presumptuous judgments about people (vs. 11-12). Now he warns against making presumptuous judgments about the future. We have a mistaken confidence; we think we can predict the unpredictable. It’s not good to make presumptuous judgments. It’s not good to assume tomorrow is guaranteed. And it’s arrogant to make our plans without considering God. James is writing to believers here. They had trusted Christ for salvation; they had given thought to their necessity for Jesus regarding their eternal life, but have failed to do the same regarding their everyday life. And so it is today. We recognize that we need Jesus on Sunday but how much is he a part of our lives every other day? Do we give thought to God when we go about our business? We get out our planners and make appointments for the day or week or month but how much do we stop and think about how God would want us to plan our lives? How often do we pray before a meeting or a phone call, asking for God’s guidance? Do we put God off to the side during the week and then come to church on Sunday saying, “Hey, thanks God for getting me through another week”? When ironically we hadn’t given him much thought throughout the week.
• We set ourselves up for disappointment when we make all these plans without considering God. We may have our heart set on a career choice but we end up running into brick walls, getting frustrated and discouraged; all because that’s not what God wants us to do; it’s what we want to do. “You can be anything you want to be”. Sounds nice but it’s not true. You can’t necessarily be anything you want to be. I will say go ahead and try it; don’t let restrictions stop you. You can rise above challenges, you can beat the odds but sometimes we have to face reality and change course when something isn’t panning out. It doesn’t mean failure; it just means we were meant to do something else. When we have our heart set on something and we don’t listen to God or wise counsel from others who would be pointing out certain things we need to take a look at we are in trouble. We plan our future with this picture-perfect scenario of how it’s going to go. We find ourselves getting our hopes up and becoming overconfident and over excited then something happens that we weren’t expecting and we are devastated. We don’t know what to do. We are angry and confused and we throw away our plans. We become depressed and conclude that we’re a failure; life’s a failure. All because we tried to make certainties out of uncertainties; all because we didn’t expect the unexpected; all because we didn’t plan wisely; all because we didn’t include God in our plans; all because we didn’t listen to God when he was trying to warn us.
2) Life is brief (Vs. 14).
• The brevity of life. Psalm 39:4-7. David understood that it was important to consider the brevity of life. That in the whole scope of things life is but a breath; a vapor. And it is wise to put things in perspective. And it is wise, in realization of all this, to make sure our hope is in the Lord. He is our hope in sustenance and our hope is the success of our lives. Life is brief and uncertain. One day a doctor called one of his patients into his office to deliver some very important news. “I have received the results of your tests and I have some bad news and some good news.” The patient was quiet for a moment, sensing the gravity of the announcement, “Let me have the good news first, Doc,” said the patient. The doctor took a deep breath and said, “You only have 24 hours to live!” “Oh my goodness,” shouted the patient, “If that’s the good news what could the bad news possibly be?” The doctor replied, “I was supposed to tell you this yesterday.” We never know which day will be our last. This is sobering when you really contemplate it. And it’s not only sobering it’s scary for those who aren’t saved. There are those who have heard the gospel and haven’t responded to it; they are putting it off. They think they have plenty of time. This is a delusion. There is an old fable that tells of three apprentice demons that were coming to earth to finish their apprenticeship. They were talking to Satan about their plans to tempt and ruin men. The first said, “I will tell them there is no heaven.” Satan replied, “Ah, they’ll never believe that. The bible is full of messages about the hope of heaven.” The second said, “I will tell them there is no hell.” Satan replied, “No good. Jesus talked more of hell than of heaven.” The final demon said, “Then I know the answer. I’ll just tell them there’s no hurry.” Satan said, “Aha! Go, and you will ruin them by the thousand.” It’s a risky misconception to think that there is always plenty of time. Poem: “The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power; to tell just when the hands will stop at late or early hour. To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed; to lose one’s health is more. To lose one’s soul is such a loss as no man can restore.” About 40 people died in the time it took to read that little poem. Every hour almost 6,000 people in this world go to meet their maker. Our lives can change in the blink of an eye. Therefore it’s important how we live each day. James asks us, ‘what is your life’? What are we doing with our ‘dash’? [Tombstone has date of birth and date of death with a dash in the middle.] Life is brief an unpredictable. It’s important that our plans coincide with God’s so that no time is wasted going in the wrong direction. We need to make sure that the most is made of the few years we have. Colossians 4:5 says to make the most of every opportunity. We need to consider the brevity of life, living each day to the fullest.