If the Lord Wills

Ship's Helm at Sunrise

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:13–17).

Verse 13 reminds us that life is filled with opportunities and choices. We hear of people making plans, setting goals, and engaging in travel and commerce. You see here that these plans are well thought out. They are filled with self-confidence and self-certainty. They say:

  • we will go—to a certain city” (literally “to this city”)
  • “we will spend the year there in that place”
  • “we will buy and sell and make a profit”

Now, in one sense, there is much to be commended here. We see confidence and ambition. There is initiative and determination. We read in Proverbs, “The preparations of the heart belong to man” (Proverbs 16:1a). And there are certainly preparations being made here in verse 13 of James 4. But there is something noticeably absent. What is missing? If you know the rest of Proverbs 16:1, you know the answer: “But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:1b).

It is right and good to make our plans, but we must always acknowledge the Lord. The answer is from Him. The outcome is in His hands, not our own.

Continue Reading this sermon from James 4:13–17

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