If the Lord Wishes

Read: James 4:13-17

I have known several people through the years who always end a conversation about the future by saying “Lord Willing” or “If the Lord Will’s.” It’s always a good reminder of this passage in James 4 that proclaims the Lord’s will and direction over our sometimes selfish ambitions. These verses come at the end of a chapter in which James is talking about submitting ourselves to God.

In a recent Rejoice devotional seminary professor and pastor Lynn Jost wrote, “Selfish ambition is boastful, earthly, unspiritual, demonic, disorderly. But James offers an alternative to live-faster, gain-more, fight-for-all-you-can-get blind ambition. A long-lasting life of wisdom from above sows peace and reaps righteousness.”

It is okay to have the drive to do better and be better, but we need to be sure that our plans are lining up with God’s plan and God’s will and not our own selfish endeavors. Verse 15 says, “Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” Now I see why those people end those conversations about the future in the way that they do. It’s scriptural.

Those who know me know that I like to plan things. I am a planner and organizer almost to the point that it drives people crazy at times. Okay, most of the time. Therefore, I need a reminder like this that despite my self made plans and desires, God’s will trumps everything. But how do we know what God’s will is? By remaining in a place spiritually that we are guided by the Holy Spirit and in tune with the direction the Spirit is leading us.

A fervent prayer life is always a great place to start with that discernment. If we never ask Christ what his will is or place ourselves in a place to receive it then we end up going with our own plans. We ask various advisers for help on finances, career planning, family relationships, and so on, so why not ask for some counsel from the greatest adviser there is for our planning and the direction our choices are leading us?

One last reminder from the last verse of this passage. When we know God’s will and yet choose to go the opposite direction it is a direct sin against the Lord. Verse 17 says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is a sin for them.” When that happens we need to repent, do a 180, and head back in the direction God has for us.

Make it personal: As you look at your calendar and schedule this week think about this passage. How often do we ask God about these things? If you are too busy and stressed out perhaps some of those things on your calendar were not God’s desire for you but your own desires. Let’s pray about these things!

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church