Come now, you who say,
Consider this, You who say:
s “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town
"In the future, we will go to this place
and spend a year there
and spend a year there
and do business
and make a profit”—
and make a gain"
yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.
yet you don't even know what tomorrow will bring.
What is your life?
Because ... well, think about your life.
For t you are a mist that appears for a little time
[Let me help you ..] Your life is a light mist, that is there for a little time
and then vanishes.
and then .... it is gone!
Instead you ought to say,
Therefore, instead you should say
u “If the Lord wills,
If the Lord wills [this or that]
we will live
then we will live
and do this or that.”
and do this or that.
As it is, you boast in your arrogance.
You talk highly of your own self sufficient plans,
v All such boasting is evil.
this self sufficient attitude is evil.
w So whoever knows the right thing to do
Therefore , if a person knows the right action to take,
and fails to do it,
but does not carry through and do it,
for him it is sin.
then for him, their neglect (or action) is sin.
[I'm not sure about my understanding of this passage. Nevertheless, this is my attempt. For now, I'm sharing it just amongst the 'Intro to Arcing' group, rather than as a Published Page. I've made a few footnotes, indicated by numbers in brackets.] What is the connection between verses 13-16 and verse 17? Why and how is the main point of verse 13-16 a ground for verse 17 ? Verses 13-16 is a preamble, and verse 17 is an associated inference. Verses 13-16 is an entreaty to people living without thought of God. The main point is that such an approach to life is evil. God should not be ignored but instead be central in their thinking; all thinking about life should acknowledge his sovereignty: "To the extent that the Lord permits, we will live out our plans." (1) (2) To see how this is a ground for verse 17 I think we need to look at how the main point is supported by the rest of verses 13-16. I see it is as follows. Firstly, James invites his readers to ponder how they are living (James 4: 13-15) . After drawing them in, he describes their thinking: they are boasting about their plans to move around, trade and prosper. Their outlook ignores God and assumes they are somewhat bullet-proof and can make it on their own. James then points out a problem with this attitude (verse 14): their (and our) lives are extremely transient and fragile, and they (we) don't know the future. He gives the illustration of a fine mist. The mist appears out of nowhere, sits in the air for a little while, and then is gone - dispersed by the wind or burned off by the sun. The mist doesn't know how long it will hang around. Furthermore, what abiding influence does a mist have? For most people, none. (3) I understand James' mist analogy is to make a contrast between people and God. In comparison to God, who knows all thing, you have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Yes, you may accurately anticipate a few things about what you will do tomorrow, but you don't know a tenth of what tomorrow is going to bring to you. And in comparison to God, you are extremely transient and inconsequential. With this analogy, with us as a mist, I wonder if God might be thought of as a mountain: massive, weighty, unchanging, un-moved. The reader then acknowledges: "You are right James. I am extremely limited / transient / fragile in comparison to the Lord. What then should I do?" And James answers: your mindset ought to be "Don't presume to live life independently of the Lord. Instead have a view that 'If the Lord lives, we will live and do this or that.' " God is eternal and we are on this earth as a mist. And yet He has shown his astonishing goodness to his people and called them into a new life with him (James 1:17-18). His redeemed people are called to recognise their own tendency to willfulness and receive his forgiving kindness by sincerely submitting to him (James 4:1-10). The transient mist ought to look for its significance to the eternal rock. We ought to seek to align our lives to His agenda. The preamble then switches back with a summary statement about the reader's current attitude: Arrogant boasting, which James says is evil. We may like to think that excluding God from our plans is somewhat neutral, but to God it is evil. This summary statement calls things as they are and sets James up for the inference. How does this relate to Verse 17? I think James is saying that when we do understand what is right, and yet we stubbornly prefer our own way, we sin ... because we ought, because of our weakness and his greatness, to submit to Him . In response to God's abounding grace, we are called to earnestly submit to Him (James 4:7). This means submitting our wills and plans to him in every area of life. This includes where it is costly and uncomfortable. Approaching life with an attitude of 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that', means that if the Lord shows us that 'this or that', or something else, is the right thing to do, and we fail to do it, we are putting our own agenda ahead of Gods, and that is sin. P.S. This passage is particularly humbling, and at face value not particularly encouraging. And yet it implies an amazing thing: That the God of the universe, who gave his Son for us, would invite such insignificant creatures into fellowship with Him, to understand and live according to His good and perfect will. We kick against it because we like to be in charge. Notes: (1). Some might think on a first reading that James discourages planning. I don't think so because: (a) elsewhere Scripture encourages planning (e.g. Isa 32:8 ), and (b) to be able to say "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that" you must have a plan for "this or that". (2) I see a couple of different ways to understand Verse 15. Firstly: "To the extent that the Lord permits, we will live out our plans." And secondly: "We will live in accordance with the Lord's plans." In the first, the emphasis is that we make plans, and we submit them to the Lord and live them out as he permits. In the second, the emphasis is less on the plans and more on being obedient to what we understand the Lord's will to be. I think both are intended: we ought to make our plans based on what we know of the Lord's will, and then live them out, and allow the Lord to sovereignly intervene and adjust our activities, and be ready to do what we know to be the right thing even it's not what we had originally planned. (3) The reader may object: Ok, I don't know exactly what tomorrow will bring, but I have a fair idea: I will wake up at 6am, go for a run, and then take some visiting guests to the local market, and a cathedral, and then watch my son play rugby. If the Lo rd wills, that's the plan.