What if I told you the best decisions are not always the ones that look the best. At one point in my life I got sucked into one of those "get rich quick" schemes. The adrenaline was going! I was going to make lots of money. I listened to a tape and the speaker convinced me I was going to be rich.
With excitement I spent hundreds of dollars to stuff envelopes with full assurance I was going to make lots of money. Unfortunately, my dreams of grandeur never came to fruition.
Sometimes those things that look the best are the worst decisions. People often use a term "God's will," in efforts to make the best decisions. Often though we believe the myth that upward mobility is always God's will, that more money is the determination of God's will.
In the book of James he writes, "Come now, you who say, ?Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ?If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.' But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 (Jas 4:13-5:1)).
The picture of the text is a picture of a business strategy session; they have their map and have put together a strategy to accomplish their mission. The idea is that in the meeting a man points at a certain spot on the map and says "Here is a new city where there are great trade chances. Many people visit and live there. I will go there and set up shop. I will trade for a year or so and make my fortune and come back rich." This person has a well thought out plan and their PNL statements look good.
So what is the problem? The business plan excludes God. The author is not against planning, rather planning without God. He addresses some false assumptions we often make. First that life is predictable. He says you don't know what will happen tomorrow. Your life is but a mist (literally a vapor) that appears for little while and then vanishes.
We assume as it has been so shall it be, it will always be this way. What is here today can be gone tomorrow. Instead we ought to say "show me Lord your will, your direction, your guidance."
The second false assumption is that life is long. We assume we have plenty of time. I do all this for my family to get out of debt or to get ahead. When I am done with that then I will spend my time for God, then I will realign my priorities, then I will serve the Lord. The point he makes is that the will of God is today � today is the priority.
He then lays out the prescription for how to make Godly decisions. First, make God's will the foundation for all decision making. Boy, does that sound clich�. Psalm 84:11 states "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly." In other words, His resources are unlimited, and He wants to bless those who walk uprightly.
Second, recognize that the root of planning without God is pride. We are making false assumptions that we hold the future, that we know what is going to happen tomorrow. We assume life is predictable. The truth is that God holds the tomorrows. He is the one we ought to look to.
Third, go against the flow. We believe the lie, climbing the ladder of opportunity is automatically the will of God. We believe in the back of our mind that a new home, fringe benefits, new car, stock options, great retirement has got to be the will of God. When in reality it is the will of America. More and bigger are not always ok, sometimes it leads to destruction of marriage, relationship with kids, and your faith.
Last, step out and begin to serve the Lord. v. 17 � anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it sins. If you know you are making a plan without God you are sinning. Continuing in self confident habits of seeking to dispose of one's own life is sin for the one who has been reminded that the future is not in his hands but in God's.
Fortunately, God is a God of second chances. Sometimes our lives and relationships have been hurt by greed and pride that got in the way of a decision. His mercy is still available. Repent and put your trust in Christ and begin to your life to His word.