Give thanks to God for a new day and all of its opportunities.
Read 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.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“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” (Jas. 4:14). James is not the only biblical author to remind us that our life is a vapor. How many others can you think of who say the same thing?
Listen up! Just like the preacher addressing those on the back row whose attention is drifting, James demands the attention of a particular section of his audience. I must admit that sometimes during a ponderous sermon I notice my own mind drifting toward the coming week. I’ve even been known to get out my diary.
These verses target the wealthy and their plans for the future: what’s the best strategy for investment? How can I maneuver for promotion? Which investment will provide the greatest measure of security (13)? Yet such planning omits two key factors (14): first, we don’t know what tomorrow may bring, as the financial crash of the past decade illustrated so painfully; and, second, good health and long life cannot be relied on. Looking around, many in the baby boomer generation have lost both their health and their money.
There’s a phrase that used to be commonly heard among Christians: “God willing.” For some it became a trite phrase, worth little more than “God bless you.” Yet, it stands as a reminder that every day we live is a gift from God, not an inherent right. This awareness doesn’t dismiss planning, though: instead, it consciously invites God into the planning process, whether for career or holidays, finance or family. It helps at the start of each day to offer it to God, while giving a rough outline of my plans. If he changes them, that’s his prerogative.
James ends with a final dig: be honest (17). Don’t try to hide from those niggling thoughts about what we know we really should be doing with our wealth, time and abilities. It’s known as the sin of omission.
Read Matthew 6:25–34 with your diary alongside. Invite God into each entry, voicing your hopes, fears and ambitions.
Lord, You are in control of each day I live. Help my plans to merge with Yours.