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The Providence of God and the Life of Man.


Read: James 4:13-17

People sometimes say, “I don’t need God, tomorrow will be rosy, failure is not on my agenda.” That you make your own future. That’s the very attitude that James is dealing with here.

1 Self-sufficiency. 13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

Relying on self. Self-sufficiency is planning without God.

  1. The plans of man. To day or tomorrow we will go. James is not condemning planning. It is very prudent to plan.James is condemning PLANNING WITHOUT GOD.
  2. The place for money. we will go into such a city,The Jews were, and indeed still are a very industrious and commercially minded people. They traded all over the ancient world. The founders of new cities often offered free citizenship to Jews, on the basis that when the Jews came into a new city they brought with them commerce, trade and of course money and prosperity. You could almost envisage a Jewish entrepreneur, being invited to a new city, and weighing up all the possibilities for trade… 
  3. The period of months.  , and continue there a year, They even tried to plan out how long they would remain there.
  4. Their programme of marketing. and buy and sell,  Yet they forget God. They believe that their future lies in their own hands, in their own ability, effort, works, confidence, image, education, employment…
  5. The purpose – MAMMON!  and get gain. So the ‘planner without God’ projects his costs and his profits and works out the very gain that he can expect at the end of the year.

Notice the great error of self-sufficiency. A thousand things can go wrong.  The book of Proverbs, which is a book of wisdom reminds us Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.Proverbs 27:1

2 Reality. 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Self-sufficiency is failure to recognise the brevity of life. Jesus told of a farmer, who left God out of his planning. With an awful finality and a dreadful suddenness, came the final moment of life.  Luke 12:20

  1. Something we should remember. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. Our minds and our nature are limited. We do not know what will happen tomorrow, we do not even know what will happen just ten minutes from now.Life is indeed a vapour – like steam from a kettle, it is there, and in moments it has dispersed and is gone. A vapour is not solid, or permanent or substantial. It is something which you see for just a short time before it is gone. The moment we are born we start to die. It is because of this startling fact that there is a …
  2. Sovereignty you should recognise.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.We could not even live, never mind do any thing unless permitted to do so by God. The right attitude to life is to recognise God’s sovereign control and yield to his divine will. But what is God’s Sovereignty? The fact that God is the supreme ruler of everything. God created the world and all that is in it He sustains the entire created order in existence. The ultimate consequence of that sovereign control over the affairs of man, of course, is that God has ordained my end. We do not know when that may happen, but the appointment has already been made 

Andwe are totally dependant upon God for everything else in life. Tell me, do you ever thank God for the simple things of life? Do you ever pray to Him? Proverbs 3:6 There is an opposite position to the self-sufficiency of modern man. It is the Providence, the good provision of God. It is the acknowledgement that God is sovereign over this world, that His way is always perfect, and that we must submit to Him.

3. Arrogance. 16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

Self-sufficiencv is failure to recognise God. Not content to leave God out of his future plans, the foolish man actually boasts about what he is doing. He brags, don’t need God, I’m a self made man.”  Proverbs 16:25 The word for `boastings’ in the Greek text literally means `vauntings of yourself.’ What man has the right to boast that the future is in his hands? To do so is to blaspheme the Lord, who alone holds time and eternity in His hands.

We not only boast with our mouths. Sometimes we boast by the way we live. We flaunt our possessions, and we flaunt our abilities, and our activities. We buy designer clothes and we show of our fine cars and our luxury homes. READ Matthew 6:33-34  

James agrees. He comments,  all such rejoicing is evil. Perhaps today you are taking pleasure in the things that you think this world has offered you and maybe even resent someone standing up and telling you that God wants to be given the credit for your success. The Bible is absolutely categorical about your condition. All such rejoicing is EVIL.

4. Warning for Christians. 17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

I said at the beginning, that sadly some of the worst offenders in these matters, self-sufficiency, pride, leaving God out of ur plans – are Christians. James is writing to Christians. We should know about God’s sovereignty over everything, over our lives and our destiny, over the length of our days. We should be aware of that all. If we truly know this and leave God out of our reckoning, we are sinning. Now James applies a good general principle to what we have been taught already in these verses, – if we know to do good, if we know what is right, and we fail to do it, then we have sinned and we must repent. To boast of tomorrow is sin. To leave God out of your life is sin. You cannot get to heaven on your own, for that is self-sufficiency, and that is sin. Trust Christ.

Knowing that God is sovereign and that his kind providence is over all things is the real answer to all of life’s worries and cares. The greatest blessing given under the providence of God… is His Only Son, who died on the cross for sinners. 

© Bob McEvoy

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