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. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 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. – James 4:13-16 ESV
In today’s passage, James teaches Christians to release their plans and trust the Lord. He imagines a practical, yet very general encounter where two partners discuss where to conduct business for the upcoming year. Then, very bluntly, he says, “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.”
Though James’ words are frank, they are hopeful. He encourages Christians to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” He isn’t saying that Christians must always speak ambiguously, but they must acknowledge the One who oversees tomorrow. Speaking in certain terms about future endeavors and asserting that you can control them, according to James, is boasting in arrogance.
As Christians, it is good to be reminded that our life is a vapor, and we are not the lord of our lives. The Lord should be sitting on the throne of our heart, and our confidence about tomorrow should flow from His presence and that truth. As you plan and look ahead in this New Year, preface those plans, at least mentally, with “Lord willing.” Doing so is a simple way to acknowledge that you follow Jesus (and not the other way around!). So, plan. Ask for wisdom, as James also instructs in his letter. And have confidence in God.