Take a moment and read James 4:13-17.
When I was in my early twenties I lived in a small, old bungalow house on Kickapoo St. with four of my closest girlfriends. I remember days spent sitting on the worn hardwood floors, gripping our pens with excitement as we wrote out our dreams on a lined piece of notebook paper. We would make goals for the next year, five years, and beyond. It was with anticipation and hope we'd plot out our lives filled with romance, ministry, family, and aspirations. Looking back, for as often as we did this I'm not sure how much our dreams changed, haha!
Dreaming and writing out goals is not a bad thing at all! In fact, you can catch a post I did on January 1st about my goals for 2016. However, there is something to be said about planning your comings and goings only for it to be a sin.
The second part of James is admonishing us from planning out our moves IF our planning leaves out God. It was obviously an issue in the early church for James to call out people who were making plans without including God. Perhaps he heard the chatter of men boasting of the triumphs in their plans and continuing to mark out their future decisions in a manner that measured success on their terms.
There are a few problems with this way of life. For one, nobody knows what tomorrow holds. In fact, we are not even guaranteed tomorrow! Proverbs 27:1 says,
Why then do we live our lives in such a way we believe we have forever on this Earth? Verse 14 in James 4 describes the shortness and fragility of our lives. We must count our days, not years. In the giant picture of eternity, we are but the smallest dot on a timeline spanning forever. To think we can gain it all and live for this Earth is deceptive.
A sign of a true believer is one who makes plans according to the will of God. Do you have hopes and dreams? Be sure, first and foremost, that they align with God's desire for your life. If He plants a seed in your heart and nourishes it, then pursue it wholeheartedly! Make goals and do something! However, if it doesn't seem to align with Him and His Word, then drop it fast.
When I read this passage I can't help but think of Elimelech in Ruth 1. He was living in Bethlehem with his family when a famine struck. Instead of seeking God's will he makes the decision to move his family to Moab. What he thought was better brought ruin as he and both his sons died while there. Elimelech made plans for their future that he thought would produce the most return for him. As a result, his family paid a price.
Pursuing anything outside of God's will is in contradiction to Him. It would be disobedient, and disobedience is sin. Verse 17 doesn't shy away from this thought either. It says that if we know what to do, and fail to do it, we have sinned.
Maybe you're thinking, "But Brittany, the problem is I don't KNOW what God's will for my life is." In fact, the Bible does reveal some of God's will. Start with the revealed will of God and the unrevealed will of God will become apparent in time. [Click HERE to learn more about the revealed will of God.]
I want to leave you with an observation made by Warren Wiersbe.
Invest in what God cares about and you invest in what matters. Invest in His hopes for you. Do that and you'll do well.
- What is one nugget you walk away with after reading this devotional.
- Is there aything in your life that contradicts God's desire for your life? If so, what is it and how will you respind?