Do you ever try to plan things that are out of your control? Of course you have. In reality, future things are never in our control. You can plan a crop and get too small a yield. The yield can be fantastic and the prices can drop to nothing. We can plan retirement and find our health is too frail to travel. We can expect to slow down and end up raising grandkids. As Robert Burns wrote long ago, The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry
. What is the outcome? Should we plan nothing, live by our wits and hope to eke out a meager existence? Does proper planning indicate a lessened dependence on God?
The admonition of James 4 is not about planning for one’s future. Yet he issues a warning to those who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit…. You do not know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is just a vapor that appears for a little while and vanishes away.
His caution is about failing to include God’s will in the plan. The plan is fine, but one’s thinking ought to reflect and have an acknowledgment of God’s plan and purpose.
Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do and that.’ He goes on to point out that a failure to acknowledge God is evil and arrogant. Presuming that you hold the reins to the future. Boastful rejoicing is evil.
It isn’t wrong to make college plans, career plans, start a 401k or to purchase a home with an accompanying mortgage. All of these things imply a planning into the future. The successful completion of any of them is under the watchful eye of God and with his blessing. To presume you did it all, that each item is a check off on your master plan of success, discounts the participation of God in your life and shifts your focus from faith in him to faith in yourself.
The failure to complete a mortgage, a business plan, or any other design that we had hoped for our futures, may only be God making modifications to accomplish his purpose. We would do well to be patient and mindful of such things.