Jump Start # 3355
James 4:13 “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city; and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”
Come now, is how our verse today begins. James will begin the next chapter with those same words, “Come now.” In our times, we might find James saying, “Come on, Man.” And, what follows in our verse is something that we can easily get tripped up on. It’s making plans as if we know exactly what will happen. We will…we will got to a city. We will spend a year there. We will engage in business. We will make a profit. We will do this. James would later say in this context, “you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’”
Let’s put some thought to this:
First, the “if the Lord wills,” are not magical words that suddenly makes everything right. This is about faith. This is about understanding our position. This is about realizing that God is upon the throne. Notice the absoluteness found in our verse today. We WILL. Really? How do you know you will? How can you be so certain? How many people go into business with that idea and model. Why sell donuts? Why sell houses? Why make a product? It is to make a profit. Yet, how many business fail. How many do not make it. James is quoting people as if they knew exactly what was going to happen. Yet, you do not know the weather. You do not know about wars. You do not even know about tomorrow. The only absolute is that you don’t know.
Second, God has a will. Part of that will is an appointment each of us has with death. Only God knows when that appointment will be. Spending a year in another city, implies that they knew they were going to be alive, healthy and in a position to engage in business. So many factors were being taken for granted. So many things they did not know or understand.
For Stephen in Acts 7, his plans might have included going to another city to preach. He may have thought, next year, I’ll be preaching on this. Before the sermon ended, so did his life. Only the Lord knows what tomorrow will be.
Now, this could keep some from making any plans. We just don’t know, a person says. That is not what James is saying. The farmer who plants, anticipates a harvest in the fall. Churches need to make plans about the future. But running through all of this is that God is ultimately in charge. Our plans may change. Our plans may get derailed. Our plans may not get off the ground. Make plans, but understand, only God knows tomorrow.
Third, when I live according to the will of God, I understand what happens will be for the best. What if God did not will a profit for those people in our verse? What if God did not will for those people to go to another city? Some may be heartbroken. Some may even get mad. Some may be disappointed. Some may feel cheated. We had plans, they would say, but it didn’t come about. Rather, knowing God has a will, He may have other ideas for you. Your Plan A may not be God’s Plan A. What God has in mind for you, may not even be on your list. God knows best.
When that prodigal left home with a pocket full of money, his plans were to have a good time. Fun was on his list. He never dreamed of running out of money. He never thought of a famine. He would have never expected to want what pigs were eating. But when the bottom dropped out, his heart turned and he came back home. That’s what the father wanted.
We make plans all the time. Our schedules are full. We are busy people. This week. This month. The holidays. Next year. We have things filling those days. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just write your appointments in pencil. God is the one who uses ink. Plans change. Sometimes we don’t understand. Often, looking back, it was for the better.
Come now…great reminder for busy days.