We’ll finish chapter four by looking a better way to think about the future. We’ll also talk about what it means if you fail to take this command seriously.
Jam. 4:15-17 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (16) But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. (17) Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Ye Ought to Say
God isn’t against planning. He’s against planning that leaves Him out. Verse 15 makes that clear. God doesn’t condemn us for saying “we shall live, and do this, or that,” as long as we precede it with “If the Lord will.” That means more than saying these words mechanically. It means knowing in your heart that God controls your future. It means acknowledging Him in all your planning:
Pro. 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Another part of the problem with the planning of James’ readers was the faith they had in it. They rejoiced because they believed they could bring their plans to pass. At the heart, this was pride. That’s what made this rejoicing especially evil. Remember, God resists the proud (v. 6).
Pro. 27:1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
It Is Sin
James doesn’t pull any punches here. If you know what’s right, but you don’t do it, you have sinned. This is specifically true in the area of prideful planning, but the principle extends beyond this problem. This is a sweeping definition of sin. If you don’t do what you know is good, you have sinned.
Let’s be clear, though, James is talking about the good God wants you to do. It’s good, for example, to be a missionary, but that may not be God’s call for your life. There are a thousand good charities to which you could give, but it’s probably not God’s will for you to give to every one of them. James’ point is that when you know what God expects of you, it’s sin not to do what He expects.
How Are You Doing?
- Do you acknowledge God in your plans?
- Are you doing the good you know God wants you to do?
Read James 5:1-3. What is the outcome of pursuing wealth wickedly?