Summary: It's time to get up and begin to fight...not the other church's...or each other...but to declare war on the kingdom of darkness.
WALK THE TALK
JAMES 4:13 17
Read James 4:13 17
Today James tackles a real difficult, touchy subject...the sin of being presumptuous. Webster says that to be presumptuous means to display an excessive self confidence, and then to take liberties because of that overdose of self confidence.
And the way we carry out this sin is by assuring ourselves that time is on our side...that time is at our disposal. We make plans as if our own ability and motives were the only things that mattered. And when we do that we overlook how frail our lives are, and we ignore the fact that even the smallest areas of our lives are in the hands of God.
It's the presumption that we are masters of our own lives...that all we need to do is decide on our course of life and somehow we can make it happen. It also touches our ability to carry on business and make money. It says that if we really want to succeed we can, if we just set our minds on it and work hard.
And all this is very ordinary...and seems just natural, right? But that's exactly the point! When James exposes this sin, he uncovers what has made a claim on our hearts whether we recognize it or not.
We normally speak to ourselves, and often to others, like we have it in ourselves to make a success of things...as if getting by, making money, and doing well for ourselves were the sole purpose of life. But it's not! Not for anyone, but especially not for Christians!
James uses a little irony here. He's talking about a person who is busy laying out his plans for the next year...and then quietly says, "Hey, you don't have the foggiest idea what might happen tomorrow." And this is so true.
Every day people wake up thinking that it'll be just another normal day...only to face situations they never dreamed would happen. I remember a few years ago, on Christmas Eve, I finished work, went to get my check, and was told I was laid off indefinitely. I got downsized! "Merry Christmas"
On Friday, three ladies got into a car in Nicktown...and in a moments time 2 of them are swept that quick into eternity. Without any warning they've had to face a holy God to give account for their lives. I'll bet they thought it would be just another normal day.
Just the fact that we have no idea what the future holds should be enough to keep us humble before the God who created, controls and gives us whatever time we do have.
James says we're just a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. In the greater scheme of things...when compared to the history of mankind, we have little substance...we're here only briefly, and then we're gone without a trace. And this is the heart of the matter.
Now, James isn't saying we shouldn't make plans for our lives. What he is saying is that we shouldn't be making the kind of self sufficient, self important plans that, at best, keep God for Sunday but looks on Monday through Saturday as ours.
Too many people today make the brevity and uncertainty of life an excuse for snatching all the pleasure out of it while there's time. A very stupid commercial used to say, "You only go around once in life...so go for all the gusto!" And many follow that advice which comes straight from the pit of hell. But for others, and many Christians fall into this category, it's an excuse for doing nothing!!!
James makes the case that knowing how short and how uncertain life is should make us humble before a holy God. But all this can be lost if we walk out those doors...or leave our places of prayer and study, and then take the reins of our lives into our own hands.
He says that either God is honored as Lord in our everyday lives...or we've sacrificed a humble spirit on the altar of presumption. In verse 14 it was the contents of tomorrow that are unknown...we have no idea what events might transpire during that 24 hours. You might face a tremendous crisis before this day is over.
But in verse 15, it's the very existence of tomorrow that's in question. Are you even going to have a tomorrow? We presume...we just naturally assume that it'll be business as usual tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. But we only have another day by the grace and mercy of God.
Let's get right down to business and see how serious this sin of presumption is. To begin with, it's one of the most direct challenges to the kind of life we're to live before God...because it involves taking into our own hands, the reins of planning and command. It sees life as a continuing right rather than as a daily mercy.