Courtesy of a virus, we are reminded that we do not know what tomorrow might bring. All the boastful plans we have made a month or two ago had to be erased and replaced with “LOCKDOWN” scribbled across our daily and year planners. As the wise have said many a time “Write your plans in pencil.”
James 4:13-17 gives some timely wisdom that we wish we had learned last year already. But, now that we do pay attention to it, we can learn from it and obey it.
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.James 4:13-17 (ESV)
The implied command is to make all our future plans with the knowledge that it will only work out that way if it is also the Lord’s plan for us. The implied prohibition is that we should not longer boast of our plans and aspirations as though we can accomplish whatever we set our heart to. And then, the not-so-subtle exhortation is that now you know this and ought to live accordingly, for else you will be sinning.
It is a lesson in humility. We are not sovereign; God is. We do not know the future; God does. We have no reason to boast about our plans; we can only boast in God’s will.