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Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

Avoiding God’s Will

James addresses those here who are in business and might discuss their business plans around the church. Based off of James’ writing there is no evidence that they sought the will of God or prayed about these decisions. They measured success in life by worldly gain and successful plans. James wasn’t condemning their business planning, he was concerned because they left God out of it. They may or may not have been in the Will of God, but it is evident that this was not their concern. They were more concerned with life’s affairs than with God’s.

Instead of obeying God’s will or just flat out disobeying it, these folks were just avoiding it. James shows clearly why it is unwise to avoid God’s will:

Life is complex

Think of all that is involved in life: today, tomorrow, buying, selling, getting gain, losing, going here, going there. Life is full of people and places, activities, and goals, days and years. We all make critical decisions every day.  Apart from the will of God, life is a mystery. With Jesus life starts to make sense. The world around you takes on new meaning. You are no longer living in a mysterious, threatening universe. Life is too complex to avoid God’s will.

Life is Uncertain

Proverbs 27:1 “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

See how confident they were:

  • “We will go.”
  • “We will continue there a year.”
  • “We will buy and sell and get gain.”

It’s great to make plans, but remember life is uncertain especially outside the will of God. Remember the farmer in the gospels?  He had a great crop one year. He built bigger barns confident in his increase. God said, “Thou fool…tonight thy life will be required of thee.”

Life is not uncertain to God, but it is uncertain to us. Only in His will should we be confident of tomorrow, only there do we know that He is leading us. Life is too uncertain to avoid God’s will.

Life is Brief

Life seems long, but in comparison to eternity, it is just a vapor. Since life is so brief, we cannot afford merely to “spend our lives”. We certainly don’t want to “waste our lives.” We should invest our lives in things eternal.

Time is filled with swift transition,
Naught of earth unmoved can stand,
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

Hold to God’s unchanging hand,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand;
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

Trust in Him who will not leave you,
Whatsoever years may bring,
If by earthly friends forsaken
Still more closely to Him cling.

Covet not this world’s vain riches
That so rapidly decay,
Seek to gain the heav’nly treasures,
They will never pass away.

Life is too brief to avoid God’s will.

James gives one other warning in this area.

“ye rejoice in your boastings…all such rejoicing is evil…”

James says to those avoiding the will of God:

    • Life is too short to avoid God’s will.
    • Life is too uncertain to avoid God’s will.
    • Life is too complex to avoid God’s will.

Then he concludes this with the warning that if you are still going to avoid God’s will, at least don’t brag about it!

Pastor Chance Strickland

Harpeth Baptist Church
Kingston Springs, TN