Write a six-word story about what you think the future holds for you, and then expand on it in a post.
Today or tomorrow we will go . . .
Okay, I decided to expand upon it in this post. I don’t see where any harm will come from it. Of course, I can’t see all ends; so, maybe I’m playing on borrowed time and fool’s luck . . . who knows?
I’ve been teaching a Tuesday night men’s bible study at a local church for the past several months. For many of these months we have been working our way through the book of James. The men in the class chose this book as our next course of study (we started with Jude) and so that’s where we are.
Jame is a very practical book. James, the half-brother of Christ, was a pastor. In his book, you see and feel his pastor’s heart for the community of believers to which he is writing. There are tones in the letter that are kind and affirming, others are harsh and condemning; yet, his love for the people is evident throughout.
James spends a good bit of time dealing with the sins of the tongue. Another of his points is in dealing with the Christian life. James argues, (following the teaching of Christ), a true follower of Jesus will be busy about his Lord’s work. In James’ language, genuine faith will produce works. For James, faith is an action word. Faith is not still or complacent. Faith is moving and breathing and alive. It spurs the believer to be up and going, following the footsteps of Christ and ministering to the needs and hurts of others.
James, in somber pastoral tones, gives warnings to these first century believers. By extension, through the Holy Spirit, the same warnings apply to twenty-first century believers as well. One of the warnings he gives, he opens with the six words I listed at the top of the post.
It is a warning against arrogance and self-dependence. Here is the entire quotation:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”–
yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (Jm. 4.13-17)
At times, perhaps more than I would care to admit, I presume too much upon the grace and benevolence of God. While I am quick to affirm these attributes of God, it is not right for me to take them for granted. It is not my right to assume God will allow me to do this or that, simply because I want to do this or that. If I am truly a disciple of Christ, my intent, first and foremost, should be to seek his will and then to do it.
We Christians often muddle it up. We put the wrong foot forward. We seemingly think life is really and truly all about us! All about our wishes and desires. All about our schedules and plans. We live too much of the time as if we were truly autonomous beings. As a Christian, however, I must profess my allegiance to Christ. I must acknowledge (and believe) that I am not my own master. I am not the master of my own destiny. I serve and live for Another.
Arrogance is a pesky foe. It is such an easy trap in which to fall. It’s much like homemade peach cobbler, sitting on the table, warm and juicy . . . who can resist?! Arrogance is natural to us. We like recognition. We enjoy puffing our chest out proudly. We like the notoriety, the pomp and circumstance of it all.
Yet, arrogance is a natural foe to humility and servant-hood. These are two of the most Christ-like traits a believer can possess. But arrogance, pride is ready, crouching at the door. We must be alert. We must not slumber.
Ultimately, my wishes are secondary to the call of Christ. Every second I am in the care of God. James reminds us we need to stop and consider this from time to time . . . it is easy for us to forget it.