As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (Jas 5:10-11)
To shore up the idea that we should suffer patiently through the trials that come upon us, James appeals to the “Prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord”. He makes a statement that is full of meaning. I think it is the key to the point he is making: “we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.”
Think about the best example of faith that you will. Those who remained steadfast, we consider blessed. Almost all of them did, Solomon perhaps being a notable exception to the rule. Sometimes, we have a tendency to elevate them to much and think their faith was so great, and that they never made a mistake. Yet we forget the sins that some of them committed. Abraham lied, David murdered, Noah got drunk. On the other hand, we sometimes tend to minimize their sufferings: “But my troubles are worse than theirs”, “no one has ever suffered like I have”.
Of course, of all the prophets that he could bring up, he brings up Job. A man who suffered a lot of emmotional and physical pain and yet, he did remain steadfast. It seems that his confidence truly was in the Lord and not his possessions, riches, or family. It may be difficult to understand the full effect of the sufferings of Job but, we can all imagine some aspect of them. The Hebrew writer says that his audience had not yet resisted to the point of death and of course, we could talk about the suffering of Jesus but, don’t get me started.
We need to realize that while we may honor these men for being so steadfast, they had real problems. They may not be like ours but they were real problems. When we say “they weren’t like us” we take away the value of their example. Yet they are a great example to us and for us. (Romans 15:4)
James wants his audience to remember that God is a God of mercy and compassion. While we may (and often do) suffer in this life for the cause of sin or because of others sins (those rich ones who were oppressing them), God is a righteous God who will take everything into account.
Paul’s sentiments however, express very well the attitude that Christians are being asked to adopt:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Rom 8:15-18)
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
If there is one thing the Lord doesn’t like, it is a grumbler. I suppose that after so many years with Israel in the desert that He just has had enough of grumbling and complaining and murmuring. But what are the alternatives to grumbling? He just got through telling brethren to be patient in the midst of oppression and now they are not allowed to grumble either?
Grumbling is roughly akin to gossip; most of the times, it is just under your breath. However, a lot of times it is a grumbling that is shared with someone else and that is going to (98% of the time) turn into Gossip with the first word. If you have a problem with someone, especially a brother, the truly Godlike course of action is to go and talk to that brother.
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
The above passage is from the OT and parallels nicely with what Jesus said in Matthew 18 about confronting your brother who offends you. The reason is simple: Few wake up thinking “How can I make Steven’s life miserable?” or even if not miserable, just kinda mess him around. However, most of us act as if the particular offense we are complaining about was a deliberate action and premeditated.
I am not saying that no one ever creates problems in your life with deliberateness but most of the time, the offenses are unintentional because they failed to look from your perspective. If they had, the offender might have taken a different path or, if not possible, at least be more understanding in actions; perhaps share more information as to ‘why’ or just plain be nicer about how they did it.
Among brothers in the Lord, we are first of all brothers. But we are all sinners, guilty of offending and causing grumbling too. If we confront our brother and share what has happened, it can be fixed and if it isn’t fixed (because he is unwilling to), then at least you know where you stand and you don’t’ have to murmur about it. In fact, if it gets that far, the whole congregation will know, if you do what Matthew 18 says to do.
Failure to do this places us in a position to be judged just as we are placing ourselves in the position of judging. Keep in mind God is the judge. He can discern hearts, we cannot. This is why we need to talk with our brother so that they can reveal their heart. Since God is the judge, we simply need to do the best we can to keep peace among our brethren. Murmuring will not keep peace, it will destroy it.
When we read the Biblical account of Esau selling his birthright in Gen 25, we see a lesson that we should all learn. The Hebrew writer brings it out in Hebrews 12:15-16:
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.
The emphasis is, of course, on the idea that we should not be unholy (or profane in other versions) like Esau was, yet, I still can sense an astonishment as the writer add the last 4 words: For…A…Single…Meal! Imagine that. I mean, he should’ve at least asked for a camel or two at the same time or maybe a years worth of food but one single meal? He would be hungry in another few hours and then, he would still need food and not have the birthright either.
Of course, if the birthright were equal to a dollar bill or a shirt, it might be easier to see why Esau made the trade but as you read through the scriptures, the value of the birthright was huge. From other scriptures that occur later, we can see that the birthright would have likely given him a ‘double portion’ (Dt 21:15-17) or maybe the right to rule (2 chronicles 21:3). At least, the first-born was considered the strength of a man (gen 49:3) and certain honor should be bestowed on the firstborn (even though there were examples of the blessing going to the younger. (Gen 48:13-20)
God placed a value on the firstborn when he redeemed them by calling Levi to be his own people. (Number 3:12) In this chapter we see the firstborn exchanged for a Levite and when the Levites ran out, 5 shekels per firstborn in order to redeem the firstborn because
“All that open the womb are mine, all your male livestock, the firstborn of cow and sheep. The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty-handed.” (Exo 34:19-20)
Christ is said to be the firstborn, not because He was created but because He is in the position of being preeminent. We Christians, are redeemed by his blood and receive the blessings of the first-born, we, like Israel were redeemed and now are the priests of God. (I peter 2:9)
The question is “what do we count as being of highest value”? Please, don’t anyone say your ‘dog’ or ‘car’. Some might think of spouse or children but the real answer is our soul. As intangible as the birthright, it is even more valuable. Once exchanged for another thing, we are unable to buy it back. (Emphasize “WE” because Christ did die to redeem us but we are unable to)
In Mt 16:21-26 Matthew record something that has value in this lesson. In two parts we see these words:
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mat 16:21-23)
Peter was offering an exchange to the Lord: Don’t die, you can live. Don’t go through with your mission. Of course Peter, who didn’t understand the implication of his words was probably shocked when Jesus said “Get behind me Satan!” but Jesus is pointing out here an important fact. There is a mind that is set on the things of God and there is a mind that is set on the things of man. Which one is yours?
Then Jesus offers us an exchange:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Mat 16:24-26)
If you could have a lifetime of a mind set on the things of God or a lifetime of a mind set on the things of man, which would you choose? With a mind set on man’s things, you might gain the whole wide world. (A pretty big task, but it could happen) Would you be able to exchange it for your soul? Jesus’ words imply “NO!” and if not for the world, what about for less than that, say a ‘pot of porridge’?
While we could focus on the past (when we first made this exchange for our fist sin), let’s not do that. If we are in Christ, all things are new. (if we aren’t in Christ that is another thing). So let’s look at two other points.
Let us not develop the mindset of Esau and profane, or make common, the redemptive price of Christ’s blood by ‘deliberately sinning” because that just outrages the Spirit. (Heb 10:26-29) You don’t want to make an enemy of God and don’t think it can’t be done. (James 4:4).
Additionally, we should think about those we know who have sold their souls for a mess of porridge. Or the people around us at lunch on Sunday. No, don’t stand up on your table and try to evangelize but do get to know people and ask about their soul and be ready to preach the Gospel.
The sermon should get posted later but will be delayed due to a trip.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (Jas 5:7-8)
These words would be good advice for the ones that are being oppressed. James has talked about those that are oppressing people, thinking they can get away with it. They don’t resist because they can’t.
When God came down to see the suffering of Israel he said to Moses that He had “heard the cry” of His people and sent Moses to deliver Israel. We sometimes don’t realize how the suffering that we go through helps to build our character. James started out the book saying that we should count it all joy when we meet trials. Israel surely fit this category. However, so did the people (the poor people) that James was writing to. The Lord hears your cry.
It is often the case that we think of ways to avenge injustices; in today’s society fighting against the rich or “da man” is not a new activity. But, if I understand the scriptures correctly, our envy of the rich people will not help us in the least in our service toward God. Contentment, even in (especially in) poverty is what we should be able to achieve should God bring that economic status our way. Improve yourself if you can, but fighting (and especially in the courts) over someone who is oppressing you should be a very carefully considered action.
James is telling his audience to be patient. Almost as if to say, “the Lord will repay” and we need to wait for the Lord to bring about his plans in their own due time. In their patience they are to do one thing: Establish their hearts. Once again, turning back toward the responsibility that an individual has to mind their own business, James says ‘establish’ your hearts. Build it up, secure the foundation, and make it a fortress in service to God. Whatever comes your way, you will press on and not faint. The good news is: The Lord is at hand.
Much has been written about what James had in mind when he said, the Lord is at hand. Did he mean the second coming, did he means Jerusalem’s end (70 a.d.), did he mean their own death and going to be with the Lord, or did he simply mean that the Lord was always near to them? Except for the 2nd coming (Which will happen but no one knows when. I figure 3025 a.d. to be a good year and if I am wrong, well I will be in good company. 🙂 ) any of these could have been his meaning and yet, the Lord is still near to us today in the later two ways.
We should never forget that our journey and any sufferings or pleasures in it are fleeting, though for the moment they may feel as if they will last forever. Be patient. Endure. The Lord is at hand. He will protect your soul, if not your life, and the soul is more precious. Think like that.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. (Jas 5:7)
The idea of being patient is one that many times we do not want to embrace. Especially in today’s society, we are a group of people that is very impatient. We are the age of people who stands in front of the microwave and yell “HURRY UP!”. We are the ones who stand in long lines or camp out 4 days early for the newest Ipad or Iphone. Indeed, patience is not a characteristic that our age is known by.
This post will be short and ask for you input. I have normally thought of this verse and verse 8 as words written to the ones who are being oppressed. Yet, it may be that James, after chastising these rich, is saying to them: The cure for all of these issues (from 4:13 to here) is Patience.
You don’t need to spend your time seeking after riches and traveling around with grand plans that don’t include God. You don’t have to fall into the mentality that “it is every man for himself” and fail to pay what is right, you don’t have to defraud people to line your pockets with gold.
God had been waiting years for His Son to come, He waited while the prophets preached and He is waiting while the Gospel is going forth. He is not impatient. All will be ok. If you wish to shortcut the laws of God to gain what you want, it won’t work in the first place and, in addition to that, you no longer have the character of God in your lives because God is patient.
So you may be a little less rich when life is over, you will have treasures in Heaven. So you have to wait to buy a new car every 6 years instead every 2, your car can’t go with you to Heaven. The Lord is coming back and so we wait for that. As we live our lives in this world, we should be, if we have food and clothing, content people.
Question: Lord willing we will have another post on this using my other thought that it applies to those who are suffering, but does this presentation of it applying to the rich work also?
Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. (Jas 5:4-6)
The fact is, you can’t hide anything from God. When you read that the wages these rich people withheld from the workers was crying out, you should be reminded of God’s conversation with Cain. “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me” or perhaps you are reminded of the voices of the souls under the altar crying out for vengeance (Rev 6). The point is vengeance is the the Lord’s, He will repay.
We have a defender and a righteous judge. He is not going to be fooled by accounting tricks and strange justifications for your actions. Jesus told the Pharisees that their practice of Corban was in violation of God’s command to honor their father and mother. (Mt 15) (Corban was a way to defraud their parents of what was owed them.) James tells his audience that their fraud (by whatever means it was happening) is in violation of God’s justice. Again, it isn’t the riches that James is condemning but the attitudes of the rich, the way they obtained it and how they are using it.
Living on earth in luxury and self-indulgence may bring to mind the story of Lazarus and the rich man. When the man woke up dead in Hades, he was reminded how he had such a grand life style in his life and Lazarus had nothing. We have to keep in mind that it is not how much you have but what you do with it that makes the difference. If only he had shown mercy to Lazarus.
Fattening your hearts is not a good thing, and these men did it while others were suffering. Then he says that they condemned and murdered the righteous person and he does not resist. How can they? They are poor. If the rich drag you to court, all the power is on their side. When Jezebel had Naboth killed for his vineyard, the power was in the government. Do not think for a moment you are getting out judgement, God is not mocked.
(side note: you may be struck with the similarity of this and those who are accused of what is called “corporate greed”. No such issue is in James’ mind. The world will be the world. Corporate Greed, to the extent it exists, is the way those in the world will run things. These were Christians in the Lord’s church, they are expected to run their business–even should they be the CEO–in a way consistent with the Faith. However, I not be surprised or spend effort protesting a non Christian who does not live by the same morality Christ asks of me.)
While James does not condemn riches, this passage begs the question of how can we avoid being like that. I think that we need to learn to be content with what we have. Perhaps even using those gains and increases in our income as a means to first serve God and then use for ourselves. No commandment can be pointed to as a statement of ‘this much’ or ‘that much’. The NT teaching is “As you have prospered” from I cor 16 and “cheerfully” from 2 cor 9. Wisdom says though you need a deliberate action in the desire to serve God.
Decide what you will give. Don’t swear a plan before God because you cannot control the future: If the Lord will, I will both live and give this or that.
One brother said that his custom was to increase his weekly giving by $10 at the beginning of the year. He said he never lacked. Another suggestion is to live at or around the middle-income level regardless of your income and use the vast majority of the rest to serve God. Most people focus on 10% but I think a strong case could be made for a Christian striving to give more. Willing giving is more important than what you give.
If you have an abundance of money, you might not put all the money in the collection plate, you might hold some back yourself to help others personally. This is an example of “visiting” the poor.
Let James’s words sink in and live in such a way that if James were writing to us, we would not get this type of condemnation.
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. (Jas 5:1-3)
If there is anything more distressing to a person of means, it is losing the very thing that you were relying on to get your through your golden years. What do you rely on?
I have known people at my previous employer who had put all their 401k contributions into company stock. When the stock market dropped and their 401k turned into a 203b, they were devastated. Some had this happen just 2 years before they were ready to retire and it pushed off retirement. Jesus warned us in the parable of the sower about the deceitfulness of riches and they do promise a security that is not real.
Here James is pointing out to the rich that they are going to have problems. As some have suggested, this may apply to the Jewish Christians who would suffer as Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD. The Jewish economy going downhill would have an effect on them. Even as the American economy going downhill would have (or has had) an effect of us.
I also wonder if James is referring to the quantity of riches that they have. So much gold that it corrodes, so much clothing that you can’t wear it and the moths eat it. Who needs 3000 pairs of shoes? The corrosion of their gold and silver, the fact that they have so much it will corrode is evidence against those who are rich. It is evidence of their lack of Love as he will show in the next few verses and in particular he says that the quantity is theirs by fraud; fraud against their workers.
How much money is too much? The world will never know! However, a Christian should. For each one it will be different, but the one thing you don’t want to do is to cross over into covetousness as these Christians were doing. Money is here for a purpose. God provides it and always has for our use and to His Glory.
When you spend money to buy food, clothing and shelter. When you spend money to educate your family and meet your obligations to raise them and protect them, God gets glory. It doesn’t all come from giving to others. Of course, when you give to others, it also is for God’s glory. A 5 million dollar bank account at your death will only pass to your heirs. Who knows if they will be wise or foolish.
Riches are not the problem. It is great to have an inheritance to leave your family. However, the money left pales by far to the value of the training that a parent leaves their children. (Consider carefully how much you should heap up or leave them.) The problem is when we love riches so much that we are willing to not do the right thing (see yesterday’s blog) which then becomes sin. We hoard, we defraud, we lie, we plan without God, all in the name of making the next shekel.
One last thought: When James says “you have laid up treasure for the last days”, it does not sound like it is the treasure that they are supposed to have laid up. It sounds like it might be the treasure of wrath rather than joy as they meet the Lord who left all He had to die for us.
The subject of riches and how to use them is an important one. Passages all over the Bible talk about it. James does not condemn the rich for being rich, he condemns them for the way they have gained and use their riches. In my country, more are rich than are willing to consider themselves to be rich. If we have food and clothing (and two TVs, a cell phone, a DVD player, Cable, hi speed internet, the latest fashions, and a cool car) with these we will be content. Please notice the sarcasm.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (Jas 4:17)
At first glance this might be saying something different about sin than we think of. We generally think of sin as doing those things that we are not supposed to do. James talked about sin in chapter 1 as something that results from our own desires, desires which go beyond the boundaries God has established. So it is natural to think that now James is adding to a new twist to the definition of sin: The NOT doing of something that you know you should.
Sin, when it is limited to the “thou shalt nots” is easy to define. Don’t commit adultery, don’t lie, Don’t steal. Got it! Even the “Shalt” commands are easy to see and in a way are just opposites of ‘thou shalt not’. I mean, everyone understands “honor your Father and mother” is a positive command. If you don’t do it, you are wrong. So is James simply saying that if you don’t do the positive commands, you are sinning? The simple answer is usually the best.
But by making this statement in this way, James puts on his Christian brothers the need to do what is right, not just ‘not do’ what is wrong. What is right in this situation is: Not to quarrel and fight, not to be friends with the world, be humble, draw near to God, Cleanse your hands and purify your minds, humble yourself before God, don’t speak evil of a brother, make plans that include God, don’t be arrogant.
James is urging them on to maturity.
What if the only commands you had were “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Would those two commands alone be enough to fulfill what James has just told them? YES! Jesus said that these two commands sum up all the law and the prophets. The things that James has just mentioned, which they are struggling with, are things that, if they would remember Love, would be taken care of.
When Jesus was asked by a lawyer “who is my neighbor?”, Jesus spoke the parable of the good Samaritan. At the end, he asked the lawyer ‘who was neighbor’ to man in need. Guess what? The lawyer got the answer right! He already knew and now knew that he knew. Jesus simply said “go and do likewise”
It is right to confront a person who offends you to make peace, it is right to help someone who you have the ability to help and it is also right to not help someone who you can’t. It is right as a preacher to spend time visiting families and studying with the lost or saved, but it is also right to raise your own family. It is right to plan and count the cost of a venture but it is also right to include the Lord in your plans “If the Lord wills”. It is right to do right. It is right to live like Jesus did.
Sometimes it is hard. I think a lot of people wrestle with ‘the right thing to do’. They know there is a right thing but they are not sure what it is. If you lack wisdom, ask God, James said. Have you ever been asked by someone “what is Gossip?” It is one of those things that seem to elude people. However, there is a right, there is a wrong. Do what is right.
Let me close with a question: What is your definition of Gossip? How do you define it? When do you know you or others are engaging in it? How do you stop them or yourselves from doing so?
As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (Jas 4:16)
James has touched on pride before but here he puts it in a different light. Those who believe that they will be able to accomplish the things they set out to do, and do not include God in those plans, are boasters of an arrogant kind. We know people like that but such a characteristic should never be named among Christians.
David serves as a good example of the good boasting. When told by Saul that he would not be able to beat Goliath, David responded:
And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1Sa 17:37)
There was not an arrogance about that but there was an anger that God’s name was being sullied by the Philistine and that no one else was doing anything about it. Boasting in the Lord and His power is one thing, boasting in our own abilities is another. David’s experience had led him to conclude that God would be with him and I don’t think he was being arrogant though his brothers seem to think so.
James is not through talking to the rich either but as we move through the text, we need to ask ourselves a question. Could I be among the rich that James is talking to? Do I plan out a future and not include God in it? Do I make plans that I think I can carry out?
I am sure that we know those people who show off a new car and then add “we prayed about it and then bought it.” Have you ever wondered if they would have bought it regardless of if they had prayed? I know I have. Still, there are those who have prayed without any idea how God would answer their prayer and found a good deal on a car. Here is a suggestion: Instead of going car shopping and finding one you like and then praying about it, try praying before you even get ready to go car shopping. Do this long before the desire and car fever hits you because I have been there. I have walked off a car lot before (I have no idea how I had the strength to do that)and it was a good 60 seconds before my pulse started to calm down. But it did, the urge passed and a when I did buy a car afterwards, it was a better deal.
Part of that prayer then would be for wisdom to choose the best car for you, your budget, your needs and perhaps to ask “Do I even need a new car?” Sure, mine doesn’t look that great but it still runs. Am I ashamed of it, does it affect my perceived status? Let me tell you, not having a car payment is a powerful reason to NOT go get another car. On the other hand, we all know that cars do break down and eventually will need to be replaced (but I dare say that it doesn’t have to be as soon as everyone else thinks) so planning for one would be wise, perhaps setting aside some monthly amount.
I can afford the car payments we boast. We lose our job the next week. Now where did that boasting get you?
If we boast in the Lord, we also boast in what he has given us. Contentment in what God as given is an antidote to boasting in ourselves. The poor man should boast in his exaltation, the rich man in his humiliation, nothing is said about his abilities, what is spoken of is that “all are equal”. All have a home in Heaven and if that is not worth boasting about, nothing is.
Jas 4:14-16 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (15) Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Yesterday we just looked at the problem with making plans for the future as if that future was already a done deal. Certainly planning to go somewhere and profit is a reasonable exercise. No one builds a tower without counting the cost but to do so without considering God in the equation is not a smart thing to do, nor, dare I say, is it a Christian thing to do.
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (psalms 127:1)
Today, we consider plans from the perspective of “what is your life?” For time-bound mortals, we generally have a pretty self-absorbed opinion of ourselves. Jesus said We can’t even make one hair white or black, and he wasn’t talking about L’Oreal or Grecian formula. We really cannot do anything that will give us a significantly longer life and yet we walk around as if we have all the years in eternity.
James tells us that our life is an exceptionally, inordinately, undeniably, very, super short in duration event. Have you ever seen the fog in a valley sit there in the morning and burn off? In a couple of hours it is gone. By the next day, it is a question: “Do you remember that fog yesterday?” A year later, the duration of that fog means so little as to simply be a phenomenon rather than a significant event. Something that happens from time to time but does nothing to change or effect the valley in any way.
We should never think that even if were to gain the whole world, that we have a significant lasting effect on the world.
The rich man in Luke 12 grew a great crop and was going to retire for years. He planned to build big barns to store everything in and take it easy. Yet God called him a fool. Why? He was going to die that evening. Of what value was all that wealth to him then? None! Jesus said we must be rich toward God.
James is not saying that a business man can’t plan for the future but these guys were boasting in their arrogance. Just look what happened to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4. It is arrogant when you can’t control all the events to think that it will all work out for you. Besides, all that is temporal earthly stuff, it will not be of value to you in the life to come.
“Lord willing” is a phrase that we do not hear much today. We are more likely to say “if the sun comes out and the creek don’t rise.” Christians have a way of speaking and it should be apparent to all. There is a humility in “Lord willing” it says “I don’t know everything but I trust that God does. Win or Lose, I will serve the Lord.”
I seriously doubt that Joseph knew he would not be coming home for dinner before his brothers sold in to Egyptian bondage, nor do I think Daniel knew how God would help him as he bravely decided to eat only what was proper for the Jews to eat. Yet, I can see in their lives and in their words, you can see the “Lord willing” attitude.
I would challenge you to add the phrase “Lord willing” to your vocabulary more. It will no doubt sound strange and we should not go overboard (I guess it can be done) to the point of making it meaningless. However, I think you will find that your attitude will say it even when your words don’t if you get in the practice of letting your plans be “Lord willing.”