Do you make plans, or do things based on feelings? I’m a big planner, and it makes Casey a little crazy. My backup plans have backup plans. The important thing is, do you account for God when you plan?
Some of you say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to some city. We will stay there a year, do business, and make money.” Listen, think about this: You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Your life is like a fog. You can see it for a short time, but then it goes away.
James is reminding us of how temporary our life is. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, a lesson me and Casey have learned the hard way with the sudden, unexpected loss of several family members a few years ago.
This theme is touched on in several places in scripture. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day will bring.” Job 7:7 says, “Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.”
So you should say, “If the Lord wants, we will live and do this or that.”
What does this look like? It looks like a call to humble myself and plan around God. In the extreme, it’s like Pastor Rod’s Immediate Obedience. Have you read it? If you have, did you to the 90 Day challenge? I did.
Let me tell you a story about when I did the challenge.
I was driving to church and saw an SUV on the side of the road, hazards on. I perked my spiritual ears, nothing I’m used to came in. I passed by thinking “I don’t have time, I have to clean the church.” I lead the Sparkle and Shine cleaning team.
That instant, I was struck by the Good Samaritan parable and the Legalistic Pharisee that passed by the man in need. Loud and clear, God. I turned around and went back, just as it started to rain really hard. I couldn’t jump them off, the battery was bad or really weak.
I took the younger man home to get his battery from his truck. I shot a quick email to Pam asking if the Ushers could get the Sanctuary because I wouldn’t make it before it filled up.
His battery wouldn’t work, the wrong type, so I dropped him off at a friend’s at his request. He was on his way to Sunday School and said: “the Enemy was working today”. I saw it as a teaching moment for me.
I had my plans, but God had a different one. I think of it like two roads, and the closer I am to obeying God the more my plans fit with his plans.
Proverbs 16:9 says. “People can plan what they want to do, but it is the Lord who guides their steps.”
How can we plan around God? What does he want us to do every day and what does it look like?
But now you are proud and boast about yourself. All such boasting is wrong.
What does this boasting look like? Boasting is another word for bragging. James ties this with pride, and it is a natural fit. The prideful brag about themselves all the time.
“Look what I did. I’m going to do ___________.”
It’s a proud confidence in your knowledge and cleverness that doesn’t think you need God. Is that right?
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride is the first step toward destruction. Proud thoughts will lead you to defeat.”
I know every time I get cocky I am about to mess up. Has it happened to you?
This next verse is interesting.
If you fail to do what you know is right, you are sinning.
We know what we should do, and we also know what we shouldn’t do. Obey God, don’t disobey God. Account for God in our plans. Do good, and don’t do bad.
What about not doing good? Can we do that?
No. God’s not giving us the luxury of a middle ground. In my story, I chose not to do good, and God corrected me. Ignoring it was a sin because I could do good. God told me to.
In a parable Jesus says in Luke 12:47, “That servant knew what his master wanted him to do. But he did not make himself ready or try to do what his master wanted. So that servant will be punished very much!”
He knew what to do, and decided not to do it. He was disobedient. Jesus said of the Pharisees who knew the Law in John 9:41, “If you were really blind, you would not be guilty of sin. But you say that you see, so you are still guilty.”
God has a very high standard. I’m so thankful that it doesn’t take my being good to get to Heaven because I surely would be going to Hell. Instead, it’s Jesus that gets me to Heaven when he forgives my sins and I make him my boss.
Tying all this up, in our arrogance and disregard of God’s will, we ignore it, not just doing wrong but not even doing right. What’s the right thing to do?
Seek God’s will in the first place?
Where can we find His direction?
In the Bible. It’s our guidebook for living. One of FirstNLR’s core values.
We are to humble ourselves and put God first in everything. We should say like Jesus did, not my will, but your will.