Be Slow to Anger – Part 5
Life Lessons from Hard Times – Studies in James
James continues in his black and white descriptions of good and evil. He has knocked us off our fence-sitting. He has identified true and false repentance. He has taken on the arrogant and proud Christian straightforward. Now, in that same theme, he will identify doing bad and doing good, in the deepest and most spiritual sense.
James 4:13-17 13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the LORD’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
1. Arrogance in business affairs. No one knows or can guarantee the future, or even if we have an earthly future! I often remind myself that I did not order my heart to continue beating today. Life is a gift of God. And the best-laid business plans go astray. No one knows for sure. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and vanishes away! Or in the words of our great president Ronald Reagan, when asked how it felt to turn 80 years old: His answer, ‘It beats the alternative!’ Life is a vapor and a gift, every day.
2. Bragging in personal affairs. James, on the heels of reminding us of the fragility and temporary nature of life, instructs: Instead, you should say, if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. That is not just a catchphrase, it is instructive and pure gold for reminding all of us that we live and breathe and work and enjoy life according to the will and hand of God. That is why one of my short truisms in life that I remember is: the Attitude of Gratitude! How can that be anything else when work and life and all that we have is from God?
3. A final warning! In the law and in life, and as a Christian, ignorance is no excuse. In fact, we are not ignorant. We know right from wrong. James has laid it out in clear and stark terms. This issue is, will we do it? If we know the good to do and do not do it, it is sin. Straight out. No equivocation in this text.
So where does that leave us? For me the challenge is not whether to do good, whether to understand business and life is a gift, it is what to choose and do of the many opportunities. Great charities abound around us.
- Samaritans Purse. https://www.samaritanspurse.org.
- Because People Matter. https://www.bpmpdx.org.
- Child Evangelism Fellowship. https://www.cefonline.com.
- Our local churches.
- The needs of my neighbor, whose need I see and whose need I can meet (biblical definition of ‘who is my neighbor’)
I have my favorites. God’s blessings on you as you choose to not sin but to do good. Not my words. God’s instructions in this text.
– John Moore