A sermon based on James 4:13-17 developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett
Verse 13 - Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.”
• As we begin to draw near to God, life begins to get better.
• When life begins to improve, we have the emotional, spiritual and physical energy to begin to dream of what our future may look like.
• It is good to look to the future and plan for it.
Verse 14 - You don't even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are a bit of smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
• It can be a challenge to plan for the future because we do not know what the future holds.
• Life often takes us in directions that we never thought possible.
• James says our life is like a “bit of smoke.”
• The Greek word used for smoke is “atmis” which can also be translated as mist or steam.
• The point James was trying to make is that life is just a small blip in the eternal scope of things and it can be gone in a moment.
• Therefore, whatever plans we make must take this uncertainty of the future into account.
Verse 15 -Instead, you should say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
• James says that we should live our lives in such a way that we can say “If the Lord wills” we will accomplish our plans.
• This does not mean that we have to literally say “if the Lord wills” to everything we plan.
• It means that we have to LIVE, ACT and PLAN for a future that is in keeping with God’s plan for our lives.
• The way Christians plan for the future is different than the way non-Christians plan, for we must include the spiritual dimension in our plans.
• We should be seeking God’s will for our lives, not merely seeking to fulfill our own desires.
• Though God has unique plans for each of us, there are some things He expects us all to do.
• God expects us to read the Bible and pray regularly (Joshua 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
• God expects us to help those in need (James 1:27, Matthew 25:35-40)
• God expects us to share the Good News of Christ with others (Matthew 28:19-20)
• God expects us to avoid habitual sin (1 John 3)
• In order to discover what the unique things are that God wants us to do in our lives, we must first be doing the general things that God expects all of His children to do.
• As we faithfully follow the Lord’s general plan for our lives, the Holy Spirit will begin to reveal to us God’s specific plans for our lives.
• Therefore, all the plans we make for our future must take God’s general plan into account.
• As God reveals His specific plan for our lives to us, then our future plans must be adjusted so they are in line with God’s will for us.
Verse 16 - But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
• Unfortunately, most of the people that James was writing this scripture too had not taken God’s will into account when they made their plans for the future.
• They only thought of their own desires.
• Planning our future without taking God’s will into account is arrogant.
• The Greek word for arrogant is “alazoneia” and means that it is vain pretension. Vain pretension implies that it only thinks of us and not of others or of God.
• Because such plans are so self-centered, they are more than arrogant, they are evil.
• The Greek word used in this verse for evil is “poneros” and it literally means “hurtful.”
• Therefore, plans made for the future without taking God’s will into account will actually HURT us and those around us who are all affected by the plan.
• Why would any Christian want to make plans that will hurt themselves or others?
• God resists those plans because of His great love for us.
Verse 17 - So, for the person who knows to do good and doesn't do it, it is a sin.
• When we do something that is clearly wrong, we COMMIT a sin. This is called a sin of COMMISSION.
• But there are also times when we simply choose NOT to do what we know is right.
• This is also a sin. It is a sin of OMISSION. We have omitted correct behavior from our lives.
• Once God has shown us what His will is for our lives, if we fail to follow it, then we have committed the sin of OMISSION.
• Sometimes we think that so long as we do not commit a WRONG action then we are okay.
• But living the Christian life is more than just NOT doing wrong things.
• Living the Christian life is also choosing to do the RIGHT things.
• Have we chosen to follow God’s general plan for our lives?
• Have we chosen to follow the specific plans that God has revealed to us about our lives?
• God expects us to plan for the future.
• But God expects us to include His will for our lives in the plans we make for the future.
• Including God’s will in our lives in not just something we “say.” It must be something we do.
• When we fail to do what God has called us to do, we are in sin before God and need to correct it.