we don’t know the future

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.   (Jas 4:13-14a)

As mentioned in the last post, there seem to have been distinctions between those who were rich and those who were poor. This was not a proper means to distinguish a person’s value or standing with God so James corrected it in chapter 2. Still, there is more to be said about the gaining of riches and he is going to say it now. We will look at these next few verses in several sections. I love this part of James because it seems to fit so many of our lives today. We are always so busy and making plans. I don’t know if it is any different than in the days James wrote this but I do know that it seems few people will take the time to credit God’s will and grace for things that happen in our life.

As he starts off with “Come now” I am reminded of Isa 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD…” It is an invitation to form a  meeting and to discuss a situation. I think  that discussing and debating rights and wrongs is a lost art. There is a way to do it (with love) and way not to do it (with envy and jealously in your heart).  In making this invitation, James is saying “Let’s look at this practice….” and let’s do it with a view of finding out if it is right to do.

Before we go on, let me do the same thing for purposes of illustration:

Come now, you who say or type, “OMG!” Do you not consider what it means? Is it nothing to you to invoke the name of God?

Now, some who say that phrase or text it or completely say each word, will look at that illustration and dismiss it. Others will look at it and think “Wow! I never thought of that!” and a few will say “Never gonna do that again” In reasoning with someone on this, I would look at what the Scriptures have to say about our words and meanings. I might point out that we will be held accountable for every idle word, or that God did not use many words in the Creation. Words mean things and have power. The implanted word is able to save your soul (James 1:21)

James is going to appeal to well known facts like: Everyone dies and no one knows when. There is nothing faulty about James’ reasoning skills. One thing that you should know is that our faith is not a blind, illogical faith. There may be parts of it that we don’t fully understand but in this point, James is going to be very logical.

The people he is inviting to this discussion are those are making plans about  things that they have no control over, specifically, the future “Today or Tomorrow”, and “a year from now” as well as  the profitability of a particular venture. That James invokes the action of speech “you who say” should keep us mindful that we have been looking sinful, incorrect, unchristian uses of the tongue for sometime now.

First off, the future: There are so many ways that “today or tomorrow “will not come for an individual that they can’t be counted. We don’t have to go to the preposterous like a meteor landing on your head. We can stay with the mundane, like a heart attack, a stroke, a broken leg, a strained back (while loading the trailer with your product that you will sell for a profit). If nothing affects you, perhaps your spouse or kid gets sick or dies. A fire breaks out and burns your house to the ground (see Bastrop, Tx.), your car could break, the river could rise, and on. (One of the young college students in our congregation, just posted today (I am writing this on Thursday) that a college friend passed away. Not even 25 and gone! Fortunately she was in Christ but all her plans for the future in this world will not happen.

Even if you get to the city you are going to, you could be robbed, or shot, or told to go away because there is no room in the Inn.  Knowing if you will be alive in 1 year is not even within your ability.  Meteorological reports (weather) have gotten much better over recent decades but they still get it wrong a few days out but no one attempts to tell you the weather a year from now.  Better to trust in a God who does not have a problem seeing the future.

Profit is always hoped for any any venture. I don’t know anyone who says “I opened up the store so I could lose money” but these folks seem to be making confident assertions about things that are not in their realm to control. “It WILL happen.”  rather than ‘”Lord willing, it will happen” Those that bought homes in the big housing market boom of the early 2000’s were thinking, no doubt, to make a huge profit. It didn’t turn out that way. Why? I am sure they did their due diligence in the purchase but when the market turned against them, the losses were growing rather than their profits. There is, is seems, no Prophet for profit.

A big freeze can hurt the orange crop in Florida, a hurricane in New York city can cause beach front homes to be evacuated (and rents to be lost), mail prices can go up and upset a mail order company whose stock then plunges. We have very little control of our own life events and even less for those things that affect economies, regions, and world markets.

James will show them a better way to deal with those uncertainties; depend on God. We will look at that tomorrow…(Lord willing)


About Steven Sarff

If I were to offer any one piece of advice to one wishing to serve God, it would be to put Hebrews 11:6 and Acts 17:11 into action and let God guide you to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ.

Posted on January 6, 2012, in Christianity, Faith, speech and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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