Isn’t it ironic how Scripture often speaks to us based on the season we’re walking through in life? That doesn’t mean God’s Word changes. In fact, the opposite is true. It simply means the Bible is God-breathed and living, thus, applicable to whatever our circumstances.
I found this to be particularly true at the end of August when I tragically and unexpectedly lost my daughter Lindsay. Life turned upside down instantly. I can’t possibly think about tomorrow, what my plans are, and especially what a year from now will hold. Sometimes just getting through the next few hours is difficult.
As we delve into the fourth chapter of James, we find many current applications for our lives—particularly the quality (or fruits) of our Christian witness and how we spend (or waste) time.
James 4:1-6 has a definite scolding tone. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you (v. 1)?”
You get the sense that James had dealt with much animosity among believers, and like a parent refereeing a fight between siblings, he’d had enough. As Christians, we’d do well to heed his words and apply them to our relationships and our hearts because they affect our ministries among nonbelievers.
In verses 7-12, James gives instruction on how to stop the quarreling and start living like the spirit that dwells within us when we become Christians. He encourages us to “come near to God and He will come near to you” (v. 8).
But, for me, the most significant part of the chapter comes at the end:
Now 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.” Why, 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. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:13-17
I don’t believe that James really had a problem with people making plans or setting goals. Rather, he had a problem with people being self-absorbed to the point that worldly schemes took the central place in their lives. The implication is that for some believers, life had become filled with earthly idols instead of Kingdom work. They could only think about what lay ahead for them.
So, to look at the last verse of James chapter four conversely, our Christian walk is an opportunity to do good to and for others. But we can only do this if we’re living right ourselves.
For me, life has been reduced to a single moment in time. Yes, I have commitments, and I’ll continue to make plans for the future. I’ll continue to let God lead me through whatever the future holds. But in a blink of an eye, my life changed, and my daughter’s earthly life vanished. One day, mine will as well. When I look back over those thirty-three years I had with Lindsay, they went way too fast—like an early morning mist as the sun rises. In my grief, I can only look at today and lean on God to get through.
Has God called you to do something you’ve put earthly schemes ahead of? And while you’re at it, can you think of a single thing more important than simply living in the present with the ones you love? We would love to hear your comments.
While I’m Waiting: Going from despair to hope while praising God and choosing contentment during trials is adapted from the author’s blog devotions from the past few years, appearing for the first time as a collection. This devotional will inspire the reader to wait on God patiently and reverently to answer prayers according to His perfect timing. The author shares her own struggles and shortcomings in a relatable way that encourages and brings hope even in the most difficult circumstances. The devotions show that it is possible to walk through the valley and not despair while praising God and choosing contentment during trials. As missionary Jim Elliot once said, “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.”
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- The Last Supper And Jesus’ Quandary - April 10, 2017
- What Hagar Reminds Us About God - March 22, 2017
- The Heartbeat That Keeps Me Alive - February 22, 2017
- Time Trials and the Effect on Our Spirituality - January 25, 2017
- Christmas Traditions and Grief: The Empty Seat at the Table - December 30, 2016
- Finding Peace In The Holidays - November 23, 2016
- Do We Value Our Elderly? - October 26, 2016
- Life Is Fleeting: Are You Living It To Please God—Or Man? - September 28, 2016