Wednesday 08 February 2017

Bible Book:

“Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.’” (v. 15)

James 4:13-17 Wednesday 8 February 2017

Psalm: Psalm 102:12-28

The Methodist Church's Bible Month this year focuses on theletter of James. It takes place in June, although churches andcircuits may choose a different time if that is more convenient.For more information (including training and resources), goto


In this brief passage at the end of chapter 4, James critiquesthose Christians who put more confidence in their businesspractices and plans than in the God who providentially guides themin all that they do.

James begins by observing the tendency of some Christians torely on planning; in this case, on planning to move towns inpursuit of a business plan. While the Bible elsewhere encouragingforward planning (Nehemiah 2; Luke14:18-20), James here criticises overconfidence in our abilityto predict what will or will not happen. All of us, James contends,are like "a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes"(v. 14), a theme also found in the Old Testament Scriptures (Isaiah2:22; Psalm 39:5; Job7:7). The point here is not to devalue the lives people lead,but rather to situate earthly circumstances and situations in aneternal perspective.

James also criticises the tendency of some to boast in theirplans, and notes that all such boasting is evil (verse 16). Theimportance of humility - and the rejection of boasting - is a themefound earlier in the letter, where the rich are called to boast inbeing "brought low", while the lowly boast in being raised up (James1:9-11). God loves the rich as well as the poor, but those whoare rich are called to take particular care in not allowing theirwealth to dominate.

Verse 17 seems to sit a little oddly in its context. It may be,however, that the "right thing to do" is that of caring for thepoor and needy, a theme that was strongly emphasised in James 2.For those who are well-off enough to move towns, James reminds themto not forget the obligation to demonstrate their faith throughworks.

To Ponder

  • How can you balance planning for the future with trust in God'sprovidence?
  • How can recognising the temporary nature of life help you dealrightly with your possessions?
  • How can you determine the 'right thing to do' in the differentsituations in which you find yourself?
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