Summary: #9 in a series dealing with the book of James. Addresses the boasts, uncertainty, and yet hope for tomorrow.
One day a man went to his doctor for his annual physical. A couple weeks later, he went back in order to hear the results. His doctor said, “Well, I have some bad news and some even worse news. Which do you want to hear first?” The man became somewhat anxious, but stated that he would like to hear the bad news first.
“Well,” the doctor said, “The bad news is that you only have 24 hours to live.” At that point, the man jumped up, completely flabbergasted and distraught. He paced through the doctor’s office and lamented, “Twenty-four hours to live? I can’t possibly get my affairs in order that quickly. I can’t believe this. This is just completely incredible. Doc, are you sure? I mean, what could possibly be worse news than this.”
The doctor then sadly stated, “The worse news is, I was supposed to tell you this yesterday. Sorry about the scheduling mix-up.”
I have always kinda gotten a kick out of the musical “Little Orphan Annie.” The story itself is quite touching and inspirational. I mean who wouldn’t be touched by the story of a little girl, raised in a mean, cruel orphanage, and yet despite her circumstances, for the most part, she always possessed hope. And her hope was fulfilled when she was finally adopted by her Daddy Warbucks and she went off to live happily ever after.
And who can forget probably one of the most hopeful and inspirational songs ever composed, “Tomorrow”? You all know the words right? Sing it with me…
The sun will come out, tomorrow;
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow,
There’ll be sun.
Just thinkin’ about, tomorrow;
Puts away the teardrops and the sorrow,
Til’ there’s none.
Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love ya’ Tomorrow;
You’re only a day away….
Okay, enough of that. But the reality is, the thought of tomorrow is kind of inspirational, don’t you think? I mean it gives us something to look forward to, a sense of a new beginning. It gives us an opportunity to perhaps redeem ourselves from the current day’s flops and failures.
But the reality is, there is a somewhat negative side to tomorrow. Maybe is it not a negative side about tomorrow itself, perhaps the negativity comes from our humanly faulty understanding of tomorrow. Because the reality is folks, we all know that tomorrow is not a guarantee. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. It doesn’t matter how rich, smart, good-looking, young, old, whatever, nobody is guaranteed a tomorrow. All we possess is the here and now. Tomorrow even though it might be only a day away, it is still an eternity away.
In our passage this morning, James addresses the whole issue of tomorrow. Now, he does this in light of those early Christian believers who were so focused on the business of tomorrow and the whole concept of greed (which ironically we’ll look at next week—Lord willing!) that they were spending a considerable amount of time “just thinkin’ about” tomorrow, and all the many more ways that they could make more money and get more stuff, and they were failing to take advantage of the day that they currently possessed.
If you have your Bibles with you this morning, please stand, turn, and read with me James 4:13-16. There are three things that James addresses when dealing with concept of tomorrow. The first of which is…
I. The Boast of Tomorrow (v. 13)
The Boast of Tomorrow. Here in verse 13, James speaks of another one of those things in which our tongues and our pride can so often get us into trouble with. And that is the arrogant boast of tomorrow. Notice at the beginning of verse 13 he says “Come now, you who say… tomorrow we will…” What James is doing here is confronting those whose tongues and spirits were writing futuristic checks that their present day accounts couldn’t cash.
Basically those whom James is confronting and challenging here are those folks, both believers and otherwise, who would make such a boast thus implying that they themselves were the masters of their own destinies. He is confronting those who possess an attitude and a mindset that they are in control of their own futures. That they are in control of their own lives. And therefore, they can either procrastinate and put off their current responsibilities until tomorrow, or they can make whatever plans they want to for the future without any regard to the future’s uncertainty.
However, James brings to these early recipients a huge does of reality when…
II. The Reality of Tomorrow (v. 14)
In verse 14 he shocks them with the Reality of Tomorrow. He tells them, “you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow.” To boast about tomorrow, to make humanly arrogant plans regarding tomorrow, to “put off” until tomorrow is stupidity at its worst, absurdity at it’s best.