I love to plan, and I believe the Scriptures clearly instruct us to plan the activities and events in our lives. I believe that we should seek God’s will and direction in our lives, and then make plans accordingly. We find In James 4:13-17, we find two important and sobering truths about planning and God’s will. We need humility and submission when trying to follow God’s will.
James introduces this by speaking to those who would say what they intend to do. “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” In Proverbs 16:1, we find that the plans of the heart belong to the man, and in Proverbs 16:9 that the mind of a man plans his way. It is wise to plan our ways, and God has given us the responsibility of planning our ways. We should be clear about our plans and intentions.
James says that we do not know what our lives will be like tomorrow and that our lives are like a vapor that vanishes away. Essentially, he is telling us that unlike God, we cannot see the future, and second, that our lives here on earth are temporary. James finishes the passage by saying that our boasting is arrogant and evil. James is not contradicting the wisdom given in Proverbs; he is just giving us a proper perspective. We do not see, know, and understand everything. Only God sees and knows the future. We need to have a humble and sober estimation of ourselves and our plans. We also need to submit our plans to the Lord.
James gives us an alternative way to declare our plans and intentions. “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord will, we will live and also do this or that.’” When we go back to Proverbs 16, we find that what James says lines up perfectly with the wisdom of Solomon. The second half of Proverbs 16:1 says, “but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” In other words, God has the final say about things. We should pray and discuss our intentions with the Lord with an attitude of humility. Second, we should submit our plans to the Lord. The second part of Proverbs 16:9 says, “but the Lord directs his steps.” God gives us the responsibility to plan our ways, but He directs our steps. We should make plans, but we should be humble in making and declaring them, knowing that we are limited in our understanding. Second, we should submit our plans to the Lord, ultimately seeking His will to be done.