The folly of ignoring God’s will. James 4:13-15

How to know the will of God in my life?

Introduction: Is it your strong desire to do God’s will? Do you find yourself praying the disciples’ prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come…and then He said this Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Does doing the will of God that come easy for you?

A Christian is a person basically committed to doing the will of God. Jesus said in Mark 3:35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother. What He was saying is those who are related to Me are related to Me as demonstrated by their desire to do My Father’s will.

Psalm 40:8 I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart. So we can say it is a mark of a believer that he or she desires to do the will of God.

The psalmist says in Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. It’s as if he is saying in one place I want to do it, and in another place I’m not sure I know how. I delight in doing it, teach me specifically how. Basic to one’s relationship to Christ then is doing the will of God.

1 Peter 4:2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. The one who has Christ no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lust of men but to the will of God.

1 John 2:17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. In other words, the people with eternal life are the people who do the will of God.

And who is our greatest example? Jesus Christ. John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

In other words, as a believer my desire is to do His will. On the other hand, if there is in the heart no desire to do the will of God, that is the mark of a rebel, that is the mark of one who has not been transformed, one who does not love God.

Constant disregard for and constant disinterest in the will of God is the surest evidence of the presence of pride. Pride says, “ I will do what I will do and no one will intrude on my sovereignty.”

In spite of knowing that God has a will for our lives many people ignore the will of God. God wants to be center of everything that we do and it is man’s pride that stands against God’s will.

James 4:13-17 13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Now in that very fascinating passage which basically is built around the illustration of a businessman who thinks he can run his own life, we get great insight into this matter of how we approach the will of God. Today, we will see the folly of ignoring God’s will.

There are some people who just live flatly ignoring God’s will. They live as if God wasn’t even around. We meet them in the form of this businessman here. Look again at verse 13: James 4:13 Now listen… This is a sort of call for attention.

James 4:13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Now that’s the picture of a typical merchant businessman. He was involved in trade of some sort, but he totally ignores God. There’s no place for God in his planning.

Many of the Jews in the ancient world were traders. As towns sprung up in the ancient world there were trade route towns where there was the intersecting from various countries. A strategizing businessman would set out to do his trade in those hot spots. Here is that typical Jewish merchant, and they have constructed the whole plan of operation. There are no contingencies, today or tomorrow we will go in to such a city, we’ll stay there a year, we will do our business and we will make money. That’s pretty confident talk, isn’t it? That’s typical non-contingency self-designed planning, typical of men.

Sign of a person ignoring God’s will.

a. They choose their own day. Now it’s hypothetical so he says “today or tomorrow” putting a little bit in a general sense, but basically saying you choose your own time, the time that you affirm.

b. They choose their our own location. we will go into such-and-such a city.

c. They choose their our own time table. We will stay there for a year.

d. They choose their own operation. We will do business.

e. They choose their own objective. We will make money.

Now in and of itself, is that kind of planning sinful? Is there something ethically wrong with planning like that? I think every businessman would say that. I don’t think in itself there’s anything unethical about it. No spiritual principles are violated in that verse by anything that is said. In fact, any businessman ought to have some kind of plan, right?

You see, the issue here is not in what is said, the issue here is in what is not said. That’s the implication. In fact, careful planning is essential and careful planning is expected. And nothing that is said there reveals the problem. But what is not said does reveal the problem because there’s no mention of God. There is no thought for God. And we would say that this is practical atheism, this is living your life as if there was no God at all, the foolishness of ignoring the will of God, planning your life as if God did not exist at all, though you even may believe He does. And believe me, there are folks who believe God exists but do not include Him in their plans.

This is the man or woman who runs their own life, foolishly ignoring God and showing utter disrespect for His sovereignty. There are no contingencies at all. And the fatal flaw, frankly, is presumption. How do you know you can do it today or tomorrow? How do you know you can get to that city? How do you know that you can stay that long? How do you know you’ll be able to do business? How do you know you’re going to make money? You don’t know but you plan as if you knew everything, you plan as if you were omniscient, omnipotent and really invulnerable. That’s presumption.

Luke 12 has an illustration given by our Lord. Luke 12:16-20 16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ A man or a woman is a fool who does not plan for contingencies related to God. We don’t know what the future holds. We have no idea.

James 4:14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. James says you lay out all this planning as if you were invincible, as if you were able to see into the future, presuming that all of this will come to pass with no thought for God at all.

Planning without God is foolish because we are ignorant.

You don’t know anything about tomorrow, you don’t know the future. Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. You don’t what’s coming tomorrow. And so when you make your plan, you make your plan to encompass the contingencies of the will of God and you’re a fool to do any differently.

Do you understand how complex life is? Life is not simple. It is an infinite complexity of forces, events, people, circumstances, all beyond your control and my control, so variable, so utterly uncontrollable that it is beyond any man to either ascertain the future or design the future or control the future.

Illustration: Once somebody came to me for prayer. He said, “Pastor I am in a problem. You need to pray for me.” He had a very good job, good family and had an independent duplex house in a prime location in Bangalore. No savings, having car, house, and personal loans paid every month from his salary. He felt his house was small and wanted a bigger home near a lake. He sold his house, moved to a rented house. He wanted to continue his loan and take a land near a lake. As he was searching for a land, he lost his job. Now he has no house, staying in rent, no job, loans to pay. Even today he is not employed. When he money ran out he went and purchased a one-bedroom apartment 15-year old apartment in the outskirts of Bangalore.

Life is loaded with contingencies. And a person is a fool who thinks he or she can order that life with utter disregard for God’s will.

Illustration: Suppose you take ten pennies and mark them from one to ten on the pennies. Put them in in a box and shake the box, mix them up. Now try to draw them out in sequence from one through ten, the way you put them in. Putting each coin back in the box after each draw. You draw out “one” you put it back, draw out “two” put it back, draw out “three;” your chance of drawing out number one is one in ten. Your chance of drawing number one and two in succession is one in a hundred. Your chance of drawing number one, two, and three in succession is one in a thousand. Your chance of drawing one, two, three, four in succession is one in ten thousand, and so on until your chance of drawing number one through ten in succession would reach the unbelievable figure of one chance in 1000 crore.

Now if you can’t deal with ten pennies in a box, how you going to control everything in your environment? You can’t. Infinite complexities that are far out beyond your ability and my ability to control.

And yet there are some people in the world who imagine foolishly that they are in charge. The foolishness of ignoring God’s will. And think about it from the other angle. What your ignoring is not just the existence of God’s will but the benefit of it. What a confidence it is to believe in a sovereign God who knows perfectly and with unerring accuracy every factor in the universe and who is controlling them all to His own purposes and wants to make you a part of those purposes. So not only is it foolish to order your life, ignoring the will of God from the viewpoint that you can’t control it, but it is foolish to try to live that way because you’re cancelling out the very thing which can give your life meaning, and that is the work of God in your behalf. And He alone is the one who controls everything.

Planning without God is foolish because we are fragile.

James 4:14 What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. What is a human life? We are a breath, we are vapor, we are a smoke. We are mist on a cold day that’s visible, that’s all we are, steam. Mist appears for a little time and then beings to vanish.” What he’s saying is you’re so temporary.

Like the rich man in Luke 12, that very night his life was demanded from him, life is so brief. Life is so short. And James is saying ignoring God’s will is not only foolish because you are ignorant of the future, but it’s foolish because you’re so frail, so fragile, so vulnerable. How ridiculous to plan as if you were eternal, to plan as if you were all wise and all knowing.

Job said in Job 7:9 As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so he who goes down to the grave does not return. In other words, people’s lives, life and death, is like a cloud that moves across the sky and vanishes…so temporary, so passing.

Job 7:6 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle.

Job 8:9 Our days on earth are but a shadow.

Job 9:25 My days are swifter than a runner.

Job 14:1-2 1Man, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. 2They spring up like flowers and wither away; like a fleeting shadows, they do not endure.

The psalmist cries the same things in Psalm 39, Psalm 90, Psalm 102, Psalm 103. How ridiculous then to plan your life without the eternal God.

James is saying there are some people who ignore the will of God foolishly. That’s not true believers, true believers don’t ignore God in their planning. They know they’re ignorant. They know they’re fragile and they know they need God. And so the first negative and wrong attitude toward God’s will is that of ignoring it.

Conclusion: Do you remember the familiar words of Psalm 37:3-5 3Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: Give your life to the Lord, give your future to the Lord. Do you remember Proverbs 3:5-6 5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

I mean, why would you want to live in the midst of a complex world and try to order it all when you have absolutely no idea of what the future brings and couldn’t control anything if you did have an idea? So the first thing about ignoring God’s will is that it manifests itself in disaster because you’re ignorant.

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