An Arrogant Vapor (James 4:13-17)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“An Arrogant Vapor”

(James 4:13-17)

Series: Living the Faith [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

April 8, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Illustration: How many of you have plans for lunch today?  How about plans to do something later this week?  Or, this Summer?  How many hope to retire one day?  I do! I only have about 30-35 years left to hit that target.

Many of us have many different types of plans that we may, whether it be today, tomorrow, or 35 years from now. 

James gives us some advice this morning when it comes to making these plans. 

Let’s see what he has to say. 

Let’s look at the passage together. 

Read the Passage

Read James 4:13-17

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.

Let’s pray together.

(Prayer)

As you remember, James has been giving us a lot of instruction and explanation as to how we should live as followers of Jesus. How do we really live the faith?

Today, he speaks to us about planning our lives. 

As we ark through this passage, I want us to consider three words of instruction this morning. 

First, . . .

I. Don’t boast in tomorrow (verses 13-14) [on screen]

In your notes, if you so choose, I’d like for you to write out the word “boast” and draw a line through it. To indicate “don’t boast.”  I want to boil each of these points down to one word. 

James is speaking in the context of those who are planning on how to make money, how to do business in certain areas. 

He’s saying that we can have all the plans in the world, to make money, to do whatever, but none of us knows what tomorrow will bring. 

James says, “you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be!”

(pause)

To be clear, James is not against making plans.  We’ll see in verses 15-17 that the bigger problem is that the people that James is speaking to are boasting in their plans to make money and be successful all on their own. 

They have great plans about making great money, but they don’t include the Lord.

(pause)

James says that you don’t really know what tomorrow will bring. 

James is again reminding us that we are not God. 

He has just told us that we should not judge because we are not God. 

Now, James tells us that we cannot really control the future, because we are not God. 

Do we get that?  We are not God!  You are not God!  I am not God!

Some of you are probably thinking, “Pastor, I know I’m not God!  What’s the matter with you?”  Yet, while we don’t usually claim that we are God, we often act like we are God. 

We act like we know everything, like we can control all things, like we can control what will happen tomorrow. 

We are fools if we think we can control any minute of the future.

We don’t really know what’s going to happen tomorrow!

We don’t even know if we will make it out of this room alive (I hope we all do).

(pause)

James says you and I are like vapor. Our life appears for just a little while and then it’s gone. 

It’s like Easter candy at my house. You have a whole lot, piles and piles, and then all of a sudden it’s gone!

Even if all your plans go exactly the way you want them to, and you do manage to amass a great fortune, or you have the perfect family, or you built a great company. Then what?

All that we have will fade away; like a vapor. 

(pause)

Plans are good, so long as we include the Lord in those plans. 

That takes us to our next instruction. Second,  . . .

II. Trust in the Lord (verse 15) [on screen]

Write down this one word under this point: “trust.”  Put a checkmark next to it and underline it. 

Let’s look at verse 15 again. 

James says, 

Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Now, what the deal with this saying?

Is James saying that these are like magic words and if we just say them everything will be ok?  Of course not!

It’s the attitude behind the words that matters!

We need to put our hope, faith, trust, and desire in the Lord. 

We need to be submissive to God’s will and plan for our lives!

Whatever plans He has for me, that’s what I want!

Whatever trials He can use in my life to make me complete, bring them on!

However He wants to point out my sin and how I can grow in holiness, show me!

However He wants to completely change the earthly plans that I have for my life and rewrite a completely new plan, I welcome it!

That’s the point of what James is saying. 

It’s the attitude behind the words that matters.

If we’ve given our lives to be followers of Jesus, then we must trust Him! 

Illustration: Have you ever had to be blindfolded and have someone guide you with their words? It’s an uneasy feeling, that is, unless you are guided by someone that you completely trust. Then, you can move with confidence. 

Do we completely trust God?  Oh, that we would trust Him and His will!

Whatever the Lord wills. “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

I will marry that person . . . if the Lord wills!

I will go to that school . . . if the Lord wills!

I will have this many children . . . if the Lord wills!

I will retire at this age . . . if the Lord wills!

I will buy that bass-boat . . . if my wife wills, I mean, if the Lord wills!

Are we understanding that what we want matters, but it doesn’t matter more than what God wills and desires for our lives, and it cannot happen apart from God’s plans for us?

Nothing happens outside the sovereign control of God. 

Not one breath is taken outside of God’s control!

Not one cent is spent outside of God’s control!

Not one baby is born, not one human dies, not one diagnosis is made outside of God’s providential hand!

He has a will that is far beyond our own and He has the wisdom, justice, power, love, understanding, authority, and awareness to see that His will comes to pass. 

We are completely dependent upon Him!

We must trust in the Lord. 

(pause)

Finally, James concludes this chapter by again pointing us to humility and obedience. 

That takes us to our third instruction . . .

III. Live humbly in obedience (verse 16-17) [on screen]

Write this one word down for point three: “obey.” Put a star on both sides of it!

Read verses 16-17. 

16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.

James is contrasting the behavior that he just recommended with what is actually happening with his readers. 

Instead of doing what the Lord wills, they are boasting in their own arrogant plans. 

Instead of submitting to the Lord, they are trusting in themselves. That’s the heart of the problem. That’s why it’s arrogant. 

When we depend on ourselves rather than on God we display the ultimate arrogance. 

These people were not only depending on themselves, they were boasting in themselves. 

Look at how much money I have made!

Look at my accomplishments!

Check out my car!

See my house!

Look at my perfect kids!

Look at what my plans have accomplished!

Look at the church I have built!

(pause)

James says, “All such boasting is evil.”

Not bad, not less than ideal, not less than God’s best, but evil. 

It is evil to depend on our own plans and boast in what we can do by our own strength, power, and plans. 

We should not boast in our accomplishments, but we should humbly trust the Lord and live a life of obedience to Him. 

James describes this obedience in verse 17, which is powerful. 

It’s a great summary verse for the entire book of James. 

James says, 

17 So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.

This thought isn’t new, but James is reminding us through repetition. 

Why does he remind us again and again?  Because we’re so hard-headed!  We have to hear this again and again and again as God teaches us. 

If we know the good that we ought to do, and we don’t do it, we are in sin. 

This is what Christian thinkers call the sin of omission. 

The sin of commission is when you actually do something that you are forbidden to do. You commit sin. 

This would be like murder. The Bible says, “Do not murder.”  If you do, you commit a sin. 

The sin of omission is leaving out something that you are told to do. 

This would be when you omit something. 

For instance, when the Scripture says to love our neighbor, and we don’t, that’s a sin of omission.

When we are told to be ambassadors for Christ and we are not, that’s a sin of omission. 

When we are told to give sacrificially and we don’t, that’s a sin of omission. 

When we are told to forgive and we don’t, that’s a sin of omission. 

“it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.”

We should forget about our arrogant plans.  

We should avoid being just an arrogant vapor that fades away. 

Let us, instead, humbly obey the Lord.

Concluding Thoughts:

As we conclude, let us review this entire passage again. Look at your Bibles with me. 

(Repeat the entire passage)

Read James 4:13-17

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.

Don’t boast!  Instead, trust and obey!

Bottom Line: Live today for the Lord and trust the Lord for tomorrow.  [on screen]

(repeat)

There’s great comfort in the fact that no matter how your life turns out in terms of what the earth values, if you follow the Lord faithfully, you will have a life of significance. 

If you’ve given your life to Jesus, follow Him with trust and follow Him with humility. 

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Consider the Lord’s Place in Your Future.  [on screen]

If all that we have is our own plans, when our plans come crashing down, so will our world. 

But if our future is guided by our hope in Christ and our trust in God’s will, there is comfort in knowing that can never be taken from us. 

Where does God fit into your plans?

  1. Consider Your Future in the Lord.  [on screen]

Even if everything in your life worked out perfectly the way that you wanted for 70, 80, 90, even 100 years, what will happen to you after that?

What future do you have in the Lord Jesus Christ?

Have you given yourself to Him?

Closing:

Everything in this life will one day come crashing down. What will you have remaining? 

The Bible says you can be guaranteed to reap the reward of the most valuable thing in all the universe: a relationship with your Creator. 

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Benediction:

Tonight we will be back in our study called, “On Mission Every Day.”

Join us tonight at 5:30 PM and on Wednesday at 5:15 PM for dinner and 6:00 PM for Prayer and Bible Study. 

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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