Summary: The pride test is actually a three part test. We already covered the first part when we talked about selfish pride (Pride Test, Part 1). The second part of the test is about presumptive pride. That’s where our text takes us today.
1. Presumptive pride is futile
2. Presumptive pride is arrogant
3. Presumptive pride is sinful
Well, here we are, standing at the edge of a New Year. People use this time of the year for different things, don’t they? Of course, some people just use the New Year as an excuse to party. But most people use the changing of the calendar for a much better purpose. Many people use it as a time to reflect over the events of the past year. A lot has happened this past year, hasn’t it? Some things have probably happened that we expected, but many more things have happened that we could never have imagined. Good things have happened and bad things have happened. You can never forecast things like birth and death and love and strife, can you? And each of us have tasted those things this past year. Each of us has enjoyed the thrill of a new experience. And each of us has mourned the passing of experiences we’ll never have again. Think back with me to this time last year. What were your plans for 2007? What were your hopes and dreams and aspirations? I’m not talking about resolutions. Resolutions usually don’t make it through the month of January. I’m talking about real plans. Now, I want you to think about your plans for the coming year. Have you made any yet? Are you planning a career change? Are you planning a major investment? Are you planning to retire? Are you planning on a new family member? Planning for the future is a good thing. God has given us the ability to think and plan for a reason. He intends for us to use the minds He’s given us. He intends for us to plan for the future. He intends for us to save for the future. He intends for us to prepare for the future. The problem comes in when we begin to see our plans for what they are not. When we begin to see our plans as the ones that matter the most. When we begin to see our plans as sovereign. As all-knowing. As the be-all-and-end-all. God wants us to make plans, but He wants us to trust Him far more than we trust our plans. God has a plan that is far bigger than any plan we can make. And His plan is guaranteed to be fulfilled. Look back at the plans you made last year at this time. Can you say that your plans are guaranteed to be fulfilled? The last time we were in James, we started a section of his letter that runs all the way from chapter 4:1 through 5:6. Remember that throughout James’ letter, God’s Word gives us 9 tests to determine whether or not our faith is real. This large section that we started a few weeks ago is our sixth test of faith—the pride test. Remember that the pride test is actually a three part test. We already covered the first part when we talked about selfish pride. The second part of the test is about presumptive pride. That’s where our text takes us this morning. If you were to come up with the most basic definition of pride you could, what would it be? Think about it. If you had to explain pride to a young child, what would you say? Probably the most basic definition of pride I can think of is to say that pride is putting ourselves in the place where only God should be. When we looked at selfish pride a few weeks ago, we saw what happens when we elevate our selfish desires above God’s desire. This morning we’re going to see what happens when we elevate our personal plans above God’s plan. When we think we know more about the future than He does. When we pridefully presume upon God by placing our worries over His providence. This morning, I want us to get rid of our presumptive pride. I want us to submit our plans to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I want us this coming year to be able to say with Him, “Not my will, but Thine.” In order to do that, we’re going to look at three characteristics of presumptive pride. The first characteristic is that presumptive pride is futile. Look with me in verses 13-14:
Presumptive pride is futile. I’ve heard it said that the true definition of futility is doing the wrong thing over and over again, hoping to get better results. There are a lot of things in life that seem futile, aren’t there? Things that you keep doing and doing and doing and it never seems to make any difference. Erma Bombeck once said that, “Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter-productivity.” Another comedian once talked about how futile dusting is. He said, “Dusting is a good example of the futility of trying to put things right. As soon as you dust, the fact of your next dusting has already been established.” When I was little, I used to think the same thing about doing dishes. Why do we do the dishes after we eat when we’re just going to eat on them and dirty them up again? It seemed futile to me. And my mom probably responded to me the same way that James responds in verse 13. He says, “Go to now.” That’s King James for “Listen here, boy.” He says, “I want you to think about what you’re saying.” Well, what were they saying? They were saying that in the coming year, they were heading to another city to start a business and make a lot of money. Who knows, they might have been sitting on the threshold of a new year like we are this morning. And here were their plans for the New Year. They had it all mapped out. You can almost picture them making their plans, can’t you? Here’s Bob the entrepreneur. He has his to-do list in hand. Kind of like Santa Claus—he’s made his list and now he’s checking it twice. Demographic study of new business location—check. Market survey—check. Property location—check. Investor buy-in—check. Surveys, studies, inventories, investments—check, check, check. The PowerPoint presentations are done. The plan is in place. All that has to be done is to implement it. All the business, leadership, and management books say we’re going to make a killing. What a “can’t miss” proposition! Oh wait. Did Bob the entrepreneur forget anything? In the middle of all his plans and studies and surveys, could there have been anything he left out? He left out God. He forgot to seek the face of the One who created Him. He forgot to determine the will of the One who sustains him. How many times do we do that? In all of your plans that you have laid out for the coming year, have you asked God what His plans are? As we plan for the future of Brushfork Baptist Church, are we asking what God’s plans for us are? When you look at verse 13, there was nothing wrong with planning on going to a city. There was nothing wrong with planning on staying there for a year. There was nothing wrong with planning on starting a business there. There wasn’t even anything wrong with planning on making some money from that business. So what was wrong with the man’s plans? He left God out. He thought he was going to do all that on his own. He forgot that without the Lord, he’s really nothing. He forgot that even if all of his business plans work, his life is but a vapor. Talk about futility. He could be the most successful businessman on earth, but that doesn’t really matter when his little time is up. What matters is his obedience to the will of God. What about you? When you make your plans this year, are you considering the Master’s plan? Are you considering God’s will and subjecting your plans to it? I don’t want my future plans to be based on this vapor of life that God has given me. I don’t want the future plans of this church to be based on any of our vapors of life that God has given us. Yes, we will make plans for the future, as we should. But we will subject our plans to God’s plan for us. None of us knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. Only God does. Doesn’t it only make sense for the only One who knows the future to be the One on whom we base our plans? If we don’t, we’re showing presumptive pride. And that is sheer futility. But not only is presumptive pride futile, it is also arrogant. Look with me at verses 15-16.