Wednesday 20 November 2013

Bible Book:

“What is your life?” (v. 14)

James 4:13-17 Wednesday 20 November 2013


This seems like a harsh message, doesn't it? Is it reallyarrogant to make plans? There are other parts of the Bible thatseem to commend the man who prepares for famine, or a rainy day. Ithink that I know what I'll hope to be doing next year, as (Iguess) do most of you. By doing so, are we making a grave mistake,and inviting accidents to happen to us? We can probably imaginethat James is probably speaking very specifically to people whohave somehow displayed arrogance in their planning, and theirexpectations. And we can assume that this is not their firstoffence of arrogance, or of ignoring advice from church elders.

James then suggests that anyone who knows the right thing to doand fails to do this, commits sin. But sometimes we don't know whatthe right thing to do is, do we? Job is an example of a person whothinks he understands how to act, but when life turns upside downfor him, his opinion changes and he starts to voice his unhappinesswith God's actions. So what should we do about the many mysteriesof our existence? This passage reminds the reader that life is amystery - we live for only a short time, and then leave again, butthe world remains with no mark left on it from our time here. Theintensity of high-level creation that burns out in such a shortspace of time is remarkable, and can be seen as a huge mystery,surely, but also it is perhaps a reminder that if we pose ourselvesas one who is all knowing, and who understands everything, then weare bound to be shown up in our suffering and illness and death,and how we don't understand what happens or where we go. Thearrogance then could be not future planning, but the expectationthat we can live exactly as we choose, and are not affected byoutside influences. Our Christian calling is not to live inisolation, but in community, and anyone who allows themselves to beinvolved and affected by the joys and trials of the lives of othersis living a life in the image of Christ. If we refuse to change ourplans and help those when they need help, or comfort those whenthey need comfort, then we are indeed failing to live as our Fatherwishes.

To Ponder

  • What does it mean to you to live truly in community? How doesthat change how we might otherwise want to act?
  • What does Jesus' life show us about the community of which weare called to be part?
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