James 4:13-17: “13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
Planning without God’s Word – Read, understand, obey!
Verse 17 is talking about the sin of omission—not doing what we should. We are more familiar with the sin of commission—doing what we shouldn’t. A sin is an act or feeling that transgresses something forbidden or ignores something required by God’s law or character. We don’t talk about sin much anymore because it makes people uncomfortable. If you think sin, or even talking about sin, is uncomfortable, imagine how it makes God feel. He hates sin and can’t even look at it.
We can sin in thought, feeling, speech, or action. For example, it is a sin to lie, and a sin to know the truth and not tell it; a sin to speak evil of someone and a sin to avoid them when you know they need your friendship.
When we know what we should do, and we don’t do it, that is pride. We are telling God that we know more about this area of life than He does. The will of God is not an option; it isn’t a take it or leave it. When we know the good we ought to do, we have a responsibility. “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows.” Luke 12:47
When we sin, we experience a loss of heavenly reward for disobedience AND possible chastening here on earth.
Paul explains the loss of heavenly rewards in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
Chastening is explained in Hebrews 12:5-11: “5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, ‘My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. 6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.’ 7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
What are some of the commands that James has given us? There are close to 60. What I have noticed is the “don’t commands” are relatively easy to follow. It is the “do commands” that are difficult. Here are some do commands:
- Stand confident in God’s Word through trials and tribulations.
- Compassionately serve others without showing favoritism.
- Speak carefully with a controlled tongue.
- Submit to God.
We obey these commands because we love the Lord and seek to please Him, not to gain salvation by works. It is impossible to obey God perfectly, so we need to continually be reminded of the grace and forgiveness available through Jesus. We work to obey because He saved us.
Before you make any plans, pray Psalm 40:8-“I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”
Make plans, but do so with God’s perspective, in His will, according to His Word.
Some questions to consider:
-What are some of the commands of Christ that you are ignoring?
-Why does God take obedience so seriously?
-What are some ways you can get God’s Word into your heart?
-How are your heart, hands, and feet connected?
Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.