Passage: Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Journal: James is focusing on submission, or the lack thereof. If one is planning in such a way that human wisdom is elevated and the providence of God is devalued or disregarded, then such are the plans of fools. It is not an elimination of sound planning that is being suggested; rather, it is an encouragement to continually seek the will of God, and acknowledging God, in making one's plans. There is a current campaign slogan that centers on the maxim that "life is short," and implying, therefore, that one should live it to the fullest (with their product assisting in the quest, of course). There is some truth there. Life is short, and there is but one opportunity to live one's life for the glory of God. ("For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.") There is too much of a tendency to discount that God places a person in a certain place at a certain time in divine history. There is too much of a tendency for a believer to be satisfied with attending church on Sunday morning, and dedicating the rest of one's time in the pursuit to "go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit." The glory of God is not a compartment that one pulls from once a week. The human condition is characterized by a lack of fulfillment. It screams at humanity from every corner. As a result, momentary fulfillment by worldly pursuits breeds arrogance and pride in the accomplishment of the moment. ("But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.") There is no real fulfillment there, for God's glory is not manifested in the human pursuit of self. The widow is out there. So is the orphan. And the friend in need. Over there is the professional that needs absolute truth. Right by the mom that needs encouragement. They are all out there, but there are few slowing down long enough to notice. ("Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.") This is where God's glory is manifested, when a child of God stops gazing down the road and starts noticing (and assisting) his or her fellow travelers. As God said to the nation of Judah, through the prophet Jeremiah, in the midst of her apostasy, "Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful and have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not plead the case of the fatherless to win it, they do not defend the rights of the poor. Should I not punish them for this? declares the Lord. Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?" [Jeremiah 5:27-29]