Summary: It’s easy to put off obedience until tomorrow. But part of submitting to God means submitting my now to God not just my tomorrows.
James 4:11-17 Sept 12, 1999
Submitting to God (Part 3) – Tomorrow, I love ya’ tomorrow
Many years ago now, there was a Broadway play and a subsequent movie about a little red-haired orphan girl who was adopted by the richest man in the nation. The name of that little girl and the name of the play that told her story was “Annie”. A large part of the popularity of that story was because of the main song in the play. “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya’ tomorrow; you’re only a day away.” That little girl had lived a rough life. Both her parents had died in a car wreck, she had grown up in an orphanage without love and guidance, and just when things were looking up for her, she was kidnapped. So for her, all that she had to live for was tomorrow. There was nothing of any beauty in today. The thought of tomorrow was a promise of hope. Maybe tomorrow will be better than today.
But for most of us, the thought of tomorrow is not only a source of hope; it is also an excuse to put off things that we should do today. Why do today what I can put off until tomorrow? For as long as we have been alive, the sun has risen every morning. There is no reason to think that the same will not happen tomorrow.
In the last two weeks, we have examined the first 10 verses of James 4, and we have looked at what it means to live in submission to God. We saw in verses 1-6 that it means not allowing my desires to control me but allowing God to have his way in my life. That requires getting rid of my pride. Then in verses 7-10, we saw that it means repenting of my sin and selfishness. I allow God to search me, cleanse me and purify me. I humbly allow Him to take from my life anything that is preventing me from living in close relationship with Him.
This morning, we are going to see how submitting to God and getting rid of pride in my life affects the way that I live on an everyday basis. It causes me to see that today is all that I have, and I must live in obedience to God today. The idea that there will always be a tomorrow gives me greater freedom to hurt people around me which is what James talks about in verses 11-12. If I anticipate that you will still be there tomorrow, then I don’t have to be quite as careful about the way that I treat you today. Then in verses 13-17, James deals with the idea that I can live my life for myself today, because tomorrow will always be there for me to seek God. Both ideas are wrong and evidence a great deal of pride. The way to overcome these faulty notions is to follow the command of verse 10 – “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Humility is the only thing that will keep us thankful for today and cause us to use today in the way that God intended. Let’s read verses 11-17 of James 4.
I. Humility will keep you from stabbing others in the back. (vs. 11-12)
- “evil speaking” actually means “back-biting”; the intent is to hurt someone; it’s kind of hard for me to bite you in the back and not hurt you or say that I was doing it for your good.
- “evil speaking” and “judging” are equal to one another
- when Jesus is speaking of “judging”, He is talking about condemning someone and working toward their destruction.
- woman caught in adultery > an attitude of destruction
- He is NOT talking about just ignoring the problems in other people’s lives and letting them destroy themselves in their sin.
- The most famous passage about judgement is Matt 7:1. [have them turn there] The point is that you need to check out yourself first. Before you go seeing all the problems in the lives of others, make sure that you are dealing with the problems in your own life. Then, once you have checked out yourself, then you can go and help someone else.
- John 7:24 “Judge not according to appearances, but judge righteous judgment”; think of it in the terms of diagnosing a problem. That’s not what James is prohibiting here. He is prohibiting condemning person with the intent of destroying that person.
Backbiting is prohibited because . . .
a. it violates your relationship with other Christians “brother” (vs. 11)
b. it shows contempt for the law “speaks evil of the law” (vs. 11)