Thursday Theology

To Do or Do Not by Virgil Stripes


James 4:13-17 (ESV)

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.


This passage reminds me of the parable Jesus told about the rich man who was successful and built big barns to store his grain. He thought to himself that he had saved enough to enjoy his life and relax. Then Jesus warns that he is foolish, because that very night his life would be required of him.


We all make plans. We want to do this or that. But this passage of James reminds us that we should always put it in the context of what God allows. Will we even wake up tomorrow? We don’t know until the time comes. I could die in my sleep tonight. I could get hit by another vehicle on the way to work, or on the way home today. So it is better to keep our wits and remember that none of us is guaranteed anything, or any certain number of years on this earth.

I am a prideful man. I like to think I can do anything. But I cannot determine the length of my life. So I must remember that I need to remain focused on what I believe God wants me to do. If I am truly doing His work, then I will remain here until I have accomplished what He wants me to do. It is not that we should not make plans, but that we need to remember that it is the Lord that will bring the plans to completion. So I should remember that He gives me the time and strength that He gives.


As Paul told the Philippians: He was torn between if he would die or live longer. He wanted this life to be over. It is much better to go home to be with the Lord. He was convinced however, that it was to their advantage that he remain longer to ensure their training in doctrinal matters was completed. So he was confident that the Lord would keep him here a bit longer.


So today, Let us be about the Lord’s work. Let us focus on His tasks. And if we make plans for the future, let us remember they are contingent. If the Lord allows me, I will...

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