In the last reading, we saw that no matter how hard we work or how much we plan, the ultimate results are only in God’s control, not ours.
But what does that look like?
After all, when we’re in the heat of the action, doing deals, making decisions and setting strategy, it’s not like we take a pause and look for God’s plan at the end of each activity is it?
In fact, reality is rather different, right?
As we get busy and busier at work, we’re in the groove and going along with the buzz. Things start to work well, and so we plan a little farther, strategize a little more aggressively. And, before we know it, we’re acting like we’ve got it all under control.
That we’re in charge.
But let’s take a minute to just check in with the Bible for a dose of truth:
"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.” 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." James 4:13-14
Whoa! Here’s James – the brother of Jesus – speaking directly to us. We’re the ones who say that we are going to go here and there, carry out our business and make money. That’s us! That’s how we run our businesses, our projects, our teams, isn’t it?
Now that James has our attention, look at the reminder he gives us in the second half of these verses, "why, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow!"
And, he’s exactly right – we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Not only do we not know about our business activity tomorrow, but we don’t even know if we’ll be alive. Just like he says, our life is like a mist that appears only for a little while.
Is James saying this to discourage us? Didn’t we start these readings with the reminder that business planning is good, necessary and even Biblical?
Yes we did. And yes, business planning is good.
James’ point in these verses is that we need to keep perspective. Check how he continues this passage in the verses following it:
"Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them." James 4:13-17
Aha! So James isn’t against planning at all – he just wants us to keep perspective. To remember that it is God who is in control.
Just like we read in the last session the book of Proverbs:
"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." Proverbs 16:9
That’s a good reminder, but let’s round that out with another verse from the same chapter in Proverbs to help as we plan our business, our projects, our team today:
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." Proverbs 16:3
Reflection / Application