A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Friday, January 30, 2009

Planning for the Future & Being Content - James 4 Review

Yesterday's (Jan. 29) Weekly Pastor's Bible Study Summary:

James is a "know it all." Just listen to the first verse of chapter 4: "Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are are at war within you?"

James seems to always have an answer to his own question! There is an assuredness in James's writing. Maybe that's why he he begins his epistle by saying to ask in faith and to not doubt (1:6) and warning us to not be "double-minded" (1:8.)

The first 2/3 of chapter 4 focuses on being content and not coveting. Is the key to being content found in verses 9 & 10? "Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection." Is James telling us that we can't reach a point of contentment until we realize our own brokenness and need for God? The good news is that we don't have to stay in our brokenness and mourning. Joy will follow!

The last part of the chapter (verses 13 - 17) is what one bible study remember referred to as the "Franklin Covey" passage of scripture. She reminded us that Franklin Covey has just about everything you need to plan for the future - calendar, goal setting, etc.

But it seems that James would not have been a very good commercial spokesperson for Franklin Covey! "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.' Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring." - verses 13 - 14a

Actually, I enjoy walking through a Franklin Covey store and admiring their products to help me plan for the future. I'm wired to be a planner and to look weeks, months, and sometimes years ahead. I don't think James is telling us to not take the time to properly think about and prepare for the future. It seems that he is warning us against the arrogance of planning for the future without any thought of God.

How many stories/testimonies have we heard in which someone says, "before I started this ministry program, I wanted to do something else, but because of the way things turned out, I had to go a different direction and I'm glad I did!"

James is reminding us to stay humble to how God is present in every moment, and to realize that even our best drawn out plans, are subject to change because after all, we're all totally dependent on God anyway! Humility seems to be a key attitude in this chapter (James 4) for James.

Next week, my bible study will conclude our study on James by focusing on chapter 5.

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