At yesterday’s Genesis lesson, Pastor Norbert covered James 4:13-17. Here’s what Jesus says:
Warning about Self-Confidence
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.
Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
(New Living Translation)
“Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.”
This is essentially a business plan. Most of us will make one at some point.
Yet Jesus tells us that this is wrong. It’s “boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.”
It didn’t strike me as being a boastful statement. Is there anything wrong with planning ahead?
The important thing is to consider whether “the Lord wants us to.”
He leaves us with one last thought: “it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” If you ought to go to a certain town, do it. If you ought to stay there a year, do it. If you ought to do business there, do it. If you ought to make a profit, by all means do it.
But always ask the Lord, by prayer, accountability, and reading His Word, whether he wants you to.
Pastor Norbert offered an insightful example of the distinction here, which is not immediately obvious.
In the American Civil War, one of Abraham Lincoln’s Generals reportedly stated, “May the Lord be on our side.”
Sounds fine, right? What’s wrong with hoping and praying that the Lord be on your side?
Lincoln retorted, “No, you’ve got it wrong. Let us make sure that we are on the Lord’s side.”
See the difference? It’s one thing to ask that the Lord be with you, whatever you choose to do. It’s completely another to consider whether you have chosen to be on the side of God.
I recently read an article in a September 2007 issue of InformationWeek. It’s called “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” and is written by Bob Evans. He draws attention to Randy Pausch, a world-renowned computer science professor at CMU. In a matter of months, he’ll be dead from pancreatic cancer. In his final lecture, “the charismatic 46-year-old shared his throughts on the unshakable power of imagination, will, and childhood dreams.” Watch the video of the lecture.
I watched that video months ago, but only read this article a bit more recently. It is truly an excellent lecture, and I highly recommend that you watch it. It’s worth all 1 hour and 25 minutes. But here’s what really struck me from the article, because of how closely related it is to Norbert’s talk:
“We all lead chaotic lives, and we all periodically– or even frequently– promise ourselves that sometime we’ll slow down. But most of us don’t. We vow that we’ll spend more time with our spouses and children– but in spite of those good intentions, we don’t. We swear we’ll get more involved with our communities and with young people– but somehow other priorities get in the way. But after watching this video of Randy Pausch’s last lecture– his stories of helping young people achieve their dreams– I know it’s much more likely that I’ll stop making excuses and finally achieve that sought-for balance.”
We don’t know how long we’ll live. Make the most of it right now.
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”