Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." ¹⁶As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. ¹⁷So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. —James 4:15-17
In his letter to the Jews dispersed throughout the wider Mediterranean area, James, the brother of Jesus, was highly practical. A down-to-earth writer, he consistently challenged his readers to live in a way that honored God and testified to their claims to be genuine Christians.
We find such a challenge in our passage this week regarding the sin of presumption. People presume when they make overconfident assumptions about their own value and importance, or their ability to achieve their goals and objectives. We see it in the early rounds of nearly every talent show on TV, when many of the contestants do not realize they don’t have the abilities they think they do.
While this can make for entertaining TV, in the Christian life, it’s sin. James pushes our idea of wrongful presuming to lengths none of us naturally go. Do you take for granted that you’ll wake up in the morning? Do you expect you will arrive safely at the end of your next car ride?
If you do wake up and if you do arrive safely, James tells us it is only because the Lord willed it. Scripture tells us that “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21)
Christians are stewards. But God is the master of our bodies, our time, our future, and everything else. Thus, we must live our lives in a grateful and humble posture toward our sovereign God for all that He kindly allows to take place in our lives. We should never presume, living as if we are entitled to tomorrow, God’s love, the faithful loyalty of a friend, or anything else.
Instead, we should boast in our gracious and kind God who is sovereignly bringing about all that comes to pass in each of our lives. If God weren’t all-powerful, and completely good, this would be a frightening truth. But He is good, so the Christian can go to sleep each night and take each car ride resting in the wise plans of a sovereign God.
In what areas of your life do you find it easiest to presume upon the Lord?
Does knowing that your waking up tomorrow is completely dependent upon the Lord bring you comfort or distress? Why?
Meditate on God’s goodness as a way of strengthening your ability to rest in God’s sovereign plans. (See Colossians 1:21-22, Psalm 100:5, 34:8, 145:9, and Exodus 34:6-7.)
Pat Dirrim has been in full time ministry since 2011. He and his wife Barbara have been married for 27 years. They have seven children, three of whom remain at home. They helped start Grace Fellowship 18 years ago and have worshipped there ever since, outside of the two years when they served as missionaries in Guatemala. They have been using Truth78 curriculum the entire time of their church’s existence and have introduced it at many other churches, as well as trained others how to use it.