Thursday, November 17, 2011
STOP BOASTING ABOUT TOMORROW
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on business and make money. Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor-a puff of smoke, a mist-that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. You ought instead to say, "If the Lord is willing, we shall live, and we shall do this, or that [thing]." But as it is, you boast [falsely] in your presumption and your self-conceit. All such boasting is wrong. So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4: 13-17).
13 This section gives another example of the "wisdom" that characterizes the world (cf. 3:15). James addresses businessmen, probably christians, since v.17 seems to suggest that the readers know that their practice is wrong. He begs them to pay careful attention to the seriousness of what follows. The form of the word "say" suggests that the situation under consideration was something that occurred frequently. Notice the well-laid plan: (1) "go to this or that city," (2) "spend a year there," (3) "carry on business," and (4) "make money." The starting time is arranged ("today or tomorrow"); the city has been selected; but God has no place in the plans.
14 No allowance is made for unforseen circumstances. These businessmen are confident that they will be able to carry their plans through to completion. Thus James points out their fallacy. They " do not even know what will happen tomorrow," to say nothing about a year from now. They have been planning as if they know exactly what the future holds or even as if they can control the future. Not only is their knowledge limited, but their lives are uncertain. to point up the transitory nature of life, James employs another illustration from nature-"You are a mist" In the morning it covers the countryside; before noon it is gone. But some of James readers had been planning as if they were going to be here forever!
15 Instead of saying v.13, the christian businessman "ought to say, :If it is the Lors's will." No christian can live independently of God. For believers to leave God out of their plans is an arrogant assumption of self-sufficiency, a tacit declaration of independence fro God It also overlooks reality. Whether people recognize it ir not, they "will live and do this or that" only "if it is the Lord's will." We should always condition our plans on the will of God. (Prov. 16:3, 9).
16 Some of James readers, however, rather than subjecting their plans to God's will, were making it their practice to "boast and brag." To make plans without considering God's plan is the same thing as arrogantly claiming to be in full command of the future. 'Such boasting." says James, "is evil." It not only lacks the quality of being good, it is aggressively and viciously wicked.
17 Although this statement may apply to any number of situations, James intends it to refer to the immediately preceding context. Perhaps this is a maxim that means something like "You have been fully warned," as if James were saying, "Now that I have pointed the matter out to you, you have no excuse." Knowing what should be done obligates a person to do it.
JESUS IS LORD.