James 4: 13 – 17
James was not one of the twelve Apostles that were disciples of Jesus. Not until the resurrection, James never believed in the ministry of Jesus. When Jesus was raised by the Spirit of God and some of the women saw Him, He sent a message to His disciples and to James His half-brother. It was this James that sat with the council when Paul and the other disciples debated on the issue of the Gentiles getting saved or not.
James finally started to follow the Master and here we are with the letter he wrote to the disciples in diaspora, encouraging them even as they went through the time of tribulation. His letter was written well before Apostle Paul penned his own letters introducing us to the many doctrines of the New Testament. This letter from James happens to be one of the oldest letters of the New Testament.
James had no idea what the message of the New Testament would be and therefore had his perception on the Old Testament only as he penned his letter to the many Jews who had been saved through the message of the Gospel. He wrote his letter with the Old Testament and the messages of Jesus (before he died) in hindsight and couldn’t have written better because that was all he knew.
As we come to this part of his letter, we are reminded of the story of the rich fool in one of the parables of our Lord Jesus. The rich man had a piece of land he used for farming and when it was time to harvest, he decided to store the bountiful harvest in his store house and later found out that his store wasn’t big enough to store the crops and in his mind, he began to think about his next plan of building more store houses, to put the crops in them and would say to himself, “I have plenty of good things laid up for many years, advising himself to take life easy, eat and drink and be merry” making himself the controller and the one who created all things even his own life (the rich man).
At the time he (the rich fool) finished and implemented his plan, it was time for him to engage in a meeting with his maker. God said to him, “You fool, this very night your life would be demanded from you and let’s see who will benefit from the many good things you have stored up for yourself”.
Jesus concluded on this parable and said, “This is what it would look like for people whose mind or heart have been gripped by the materialism in the world today”.
It seemed like these Jews in diaspora had gotten carried away by the so many aspects and attitudes of the pagans and the desire for material things had caused many to drift away to the extent that many began to be covetous, they started to quarrel and fight amongst each other. They continued to plan for their future without the consideration of their maker.
Their goal was not to walk with God but remained in the amount of money they would make, which led to them gathering so many possessions as they desired. This was futile, because they actually forgot that those plans might be aborted even when death comes.
Solomon, who remained the writer of the book of Proverbs, ensured that he didn’t forget to help his hearers learn that they should never boast about tomorrow, because they could never predict what the day would be like. This is the reason why someone like Apostle Paul, when asked a question about the future, would always respond saying “as long as it is God’s Will”. He knew that man’s life is but vapor, mist and a wisp of smoke.
James was not against planning for the future but what he was against was that these people and their plans were centered only on acquiring wealth and material possessions. There was no consideration of their Maker and what His (their Maker) intended Will and purpose was for them. It was the desire for wealth for its own sake, and for spending on possessions and pleasures or for gaining societal status in the eyes of the world.
Paul commanded Timothy to warn those who desire to be rich when he said, “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”
He advised those who are rich not to get caught up in the deceitfulness of riches and also told Timothy to teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works, be generous to those in need, and always be ready to share with others.
James wanted the people to bring God into the equation. He didn’t want his hearers to brag and boast self-centeredly about what they planned to do in the future and how they intend to spend the money they might make. They needed to bring God into the equation – “if it is the Lord’s Will” – which was frequently expressed by Paul.
James concluded this portion of his letter that bragging and boasting before God was a sin. He would rather them do the right things, the good things and the so many things that are pleasing in the sight of God.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon made his remarks about the future when he said, “It is the glory of God, we are told, to conceal a thing, and it most certainly is for the happiness of mankind that he should conceal their future. Supposing that bright lines were written for us in the book of destiny, and that we could read those bright lines now, and be sure of them, we should probably loiter away our time until we arrived at them, and should have no heart for the present. If, on the other hand, we knew that there were dark days of trouble in store for us, and had a presentiment and full conviction as to when they would come, probably the thought of them would overshadow the present, so that the joys which we now drink would be left untasted by reason of our nervous fears as to the distant future. To know the good might lead us to presumption, to know the evil might tempt us to despair.
Keep it right here and be refreshed.