"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES"
Making Our Plans (James 4:13-17)
1. In the text for this study, James discusses the subject of making
13 Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such
a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
14 Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is]
your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time,
and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye [ought] to say, If the Lord
will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 16 But now ye rejoice in
your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. 17 Therefore to him
that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin.
2. This subject is very relevant for us today, for we all make plans of
one sort or another...
a. Plans for college, jobs
b. Plans for marriage, family
c. Plans for vacation, retirement
3. Making plans, in of itself, is not wrong...
a. Paul often made plans in regard to his travels - Ac 15:36;
Ac 18:20-21; 1 Co 16:5-9
b. In fact, making plans (or setting goals) is a key to success in
any venture we may undertake in life
4. But there is a "right" way to plan, and a "wrong" way; and James
[First, let's consider the "right" way to "Making Our Plans"...]
I. WE CAN SUBMIT TO GOD'S WILL
A. I.E., SUBMIT OUR PLANS TO THE WILL OF GOD...
1. We can make our plans, but we should make them contingent to
God's approval - "if the Lord wills" (v15)
2. This is what Paul did
a. "God willing" - Ac 18:21
b. "if the Lord permits" - 1 Co 16:7
3. Saying "if the Lord wills" assumes our faith in two things:
a. That God does have a will for us (even in mundane matters)
b. That God can intervene (via providence) to carry out His
4. The wisdom of making our plans contingent upon the will of God
will become evident later, when we consider the "wrong" way to
B. IF WE REALLY WANT OUR PLANS TO SUCCEED, THEN WE WILL SEEK FIRST
TO DISCERN GOD'S WILL, AND PLAN ACCORDINGLY...
1. To a great degree, this is possible, for God wants us to:
a. Understand His Will - Ep 5:17
b. Be filled with His Will - Co 1:9
c. Prove His Will - Ro 12:2
2. Of course, this relates especially to His "revealed" will
a. Which pertains to matters right and wrong
b. Which is found in the pages of the Bible
c. When we know God's "revealed" will (from our study of the
Bible), then we can act or plan accordingly
d. Until then, the right way to plan is to show our submission
to God by leaving our plans subject to His will
3. There is also God's "permissive" will
a. Which pertains to matters not right or wrong, but good and
b. Even so, we should still show our trust and dependence upon
God in such matters by committing our plans to His Will
[Now let's look at the "wrong" way in "Making Our Plans"...]
II. WE CAN IGNORE GOD'S WILL
A. TO PLAN THIS WAY IS FOLLY (Vs 13-15)
1. Because life is COMPLEX (v13)
a. There are the complexities of TIME (today, tomorrow, when?)
b. There are the complexities of ACTIVITIES (buy, sell?)
c. So many decisions to make, so many mistakes might be made
d. If it's possible to know God's will on any matter, that
would increase the likelihood that our decisions and plans
will be correct
2. Because life is UNCERTAIN (v14a)
a. No one has a guarantee of tomorrow
1) Whether there will even be one
2) Or what will happen
b. Only God can bring about what He wills for the future without
c. Since this is true, we should certainly desire to make plans
that are in keeping with "His" plans!
3. Because life is FRAIL (v14b)
a. It is like a "vapor" - cf. Ps 39:5-6; Ps 39:11
b. How substantial is a "vapor" or "shadow"?
c. How quickly we can succumb to sickness or an accident
illustrates how frail we really are
d. It is foolish, then, to think "we" have the strength within
ourselves to "make" our plans happen - remember Ja 1:10-11
4. Because life is BRIEF (14c)
a. "appears for a little time"
b. This is something Job observed - Job 9:25-26; Job 14:1
c. Since life is so short, it is important that we do God's
will and not our own - cf. 1 Jn 2:17
B. TO PLAN THIS WAY IS BOASTFUL ARROGANCE (16a)
1. To plan without taking into consideration God's will is to set
ourselves up above God Himself!
2. How could one be more arrogant than that?
C. TO PLAN THIS WAY IS SIN (Vs 16-17)
1. It is sin because it involves arrogance and boasting which is
evil - v16
2. It is sin because we who are Christians know better - v17
a. We know what is good: to plan with God's Will in mind
b. To do otherwise is to sin!
1. How do we make our plans?
a. If we plan without considering the will of God, then we are
foolish, arrogant, and sinful!
b. If we make our plans subject to the approval of God, then we are
wise, submissive, and righteous in God's sight!
c. If we endeavor to plan as much as we can within the framework of
God's "revealed" will, then we increase the likelihood of success!
2. What about your "plans" for eternity?
a. There is no doubt what the Lord's will is on this subject -
cf. Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15-16 ; Ac 2:38; Ro 10:9-10; 2 Pe 1:5-11;
b. We can be certain of "success" if we submit to God's will in the
matters of faith, repentance, confession, baptism, and living a
faithful Christian life
c. But to ignore it is folly in view of life's UNCERTAINTY, FRAILTY,
Have you done "as" the Lord wills? (i.e., as "He" would have you do it?)
Note: Parts of the material for this outline was adapted heavily
from The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume 2, by Warren W. Wiersbe,
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