James 4:14 …whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. (NKJV)
Christianity is about TODAY. That doesn’t mean we have no care or plans for the future. It means we know that our future is in God’s hands and we don’t place our TRUST in our own schemes and declarations. Consider what James says starting with 4:13:
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
Again, this is not a an excuse for laziness or pretending that tomorrow or next year will never happen, so why bother preparing. No, this is about two opposing attitudes:
- I’m the lord of my life. I’m going to make this happen and that happen. With no regard for God’s plan for my life, I’ll determine what I’m going to do and when.
- God is in control. He is Lord. I will make my plans for the future but make them knowing that this may be my last day on earth. I’m not promised tomorrow or next year. And my plans must always be subservient to God’s will. They may happen, they may not… God may change them or He may bring me home to heaven.
James reminds us that compared to all mankind, compared to all human history, and especially compared to eternity, our life is a whisper, a vapor, a puff of smoke. And it indeed it is.
Do you remember your great grandparents? Do you even know their names? What about their grandparents or theirs? With few exceptions, no matter what we accomplish, build or plan, we are long forgotten after 3-4 generations, usually less. That is sad for unbelievers. It’s inconsequential for those going to heaven because we’ll have all eternity to then get acquainted with all those who come before us, and all those who come after.
15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
We should live our lives for today submitting everything we plan and hope for to God’s will. This flies in the face of much of positive-thinking, positive-confession crowd who declare that you should proclaim what you want (and believe God will do it), some magic spiritual law will force Him to do it. I’ve been told numerous times, and have heard it taught on television by several prominent “faith teachers” that saying “if it is the Lord’s will” is a lack of faith and “negative, wishy-washy confession”. Sorry… I’ll side with Jesus and the Apostle James before I’ll agree with any human.
In fact, James goes so far as to call it sin if we do not have that perspective:
16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
When we make plans that do not keep God’s will and our temporal nature in mind (we aren’t promised tomorrow), we are guilty of bragging and arrogance. James tells us that all such boasting is evil, in other words, it is SINFUL. I would encourage you today, if you practice the popular concept of “positive confession” to consider this: be positive, there’s nothing wrong with that. But consider whether declaring your “confession” without submitting it to God’s will is a Biblical idea… or something a human has convinced you to do appealing to your self interest.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with planning. There’s nothing wrong with speaking in a positive and affirming way about the future or your life. There is everything wrong with not submitting it ALL to God’s will and to the realization that you might not even be here tomorrow. That’s not a “negative confession”… that’s SCRIPTURE. That’s reality.
Now, you know what is “good” straight from the Bible (to submit everything to the Lord’s will, “if it is Your will” and “thy will be done”). To not do it, is sin.