This message was preached by Pete Harwood,at The Glorious Church conference held in Mumbai 2014.
Everyone has a dream- desire to prosper. Many in India are determined to achieve this no matter what the cost. As Christ followers we too can be shaped up by this thinking. What do “I” want to do with my life? What will make me happy, my family happy? So often, we make our own plans and based on our desires, and we forget to ask what God wants me to do.
2000 years ago, in the Roman era, a new time of peace began and travel was easy, everyone spoke Greek so there were lots of opportunities to make money. The Jews were good at business and hungry for wealth. And some of the church members were chasing these as well. James was forced to address this issue as well.
James is saying that everyone is acting like they are the Big Boss. But they are not. In verse 13, these Jewish businessmen were making plans for the future. When and where and for how long they were going- what they would do, etc. They were so confident of making money.
This was perfectly normal to hear from an unbeliever businessman. James is shocked that believers are talking like this. How do we know they are believers? He would not have this expectation. So Christian Businessmen are making bold strategies for growth.
What’s wrong with that? Does James have a problem with making money? No.
The problem is that they were planning their future as though God does not exist.
Some of you may be thinking- Great! This sermon is about business and does not relate to me. But the passage relates to all of us- to make plans without including God. May be it’s your job or the place where you live, you want to better your lifestyle, or job prospects…
We may pray about it but often we have already made up our minds and we want God to bless our plans. We are in control of our lives.
Whatever you might think you are not the Big Boss. James tells us that these people not only make plans but are boasting.
James uses a rare word for “arrogance” – it’s used for people who think that they are better than they really are. All this boasting is empty because you do not know what tomorrow will bring. You could suffer loss, or get cheated etc. So many things can happen that can affect their plan.
James reminds them that they don’t know the future. Our lives are like a mist. What was wrong with these people? Why were they behaving like this? If I ask you today if you have control over your future, you will say, “of course not”.
So many unexpected things happen in life and it changes your whole life.
No matter how carefully we plan for the future, we don’t know everything that is going to happen. Our lives are over in a few short years. The world will tell you that you don’t need God. Be independent, take charge- go for it, be the boss.
But the Bible says that it’s a lie. There is a better way to live. That way is to acknowledge that God is the Big Boss. Trust in God.
How do we do it?
1. Acknowledge- Verse 15 speaks about the will of God. The Bible teaches us that God is in control. Proverbs 19:21- “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” The Old Testament teaches clearly that nothing happens unless God allows it.
Paul says in 1 Cor 4:19- “if the Lord wills…”. Paul acknowledges the will of God. He does not sit idle but makes bold plans but acknowledges that his plans are in the hands of God. God is sovereign- whatever plans we make will come to pass if God wills it.
2. We need to embrace God’s will for our lives. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and does not do it, for him it is sin”. These businessmen James was addressing to, knew the truth but were not living it out. Just praying about it is not enough. Lay hold of God’s will for your life.
God in His mercy has made it easy for us. Inspite of our rebellion he reached out to us in love. He sent his son Jesus to come and live amongst us, to die and reconcile us to God, to bring us back into a relationship of dependence.
When we do this, it’s the beginning of a whole new lifestyle. We do not believe in Jesus and continue living life as usual. We are living out our life unto Christ and living as an example.
Q. How do we know what God wants us to do?
This question has vexed more Christians than any other question. We tie ourselves in knots trying to find out. We spend too much time thinking on what God has not told us to do rather than focus on what is clear. Read the Bible, learn what pleases him and ask the Holy Spirit to help you live it out. It sounds easy.
Often these decisions are not directly addressed in the Bible- What job, where do I live, who do I marry? We mustn’t allow fear of making mistakes stop us. God loves us so much that he will redirect our path.