Last time, we talked about taking away a lot of the pressure we put on our decisions and live in a balance of planning but leaving space for God to do what He will do. In the previous passage in James, we saw him encouraging that (James 4:13-15). James began that chapter talking about why we fight and quarrel. It has to do with our desires and wants. We make decisions based on what we want for ourselves in the future. Many times, those decisions have people in our path, either helping us get what we want or standing in our way. James says when our wants cause struggles with others (and I would add within ourselves), we are putting so much emphasis on what we want and not what God would want. We become more focused on the things of this world and our kingdom, than the things of heaven and God’s Kingdom.
What we need to do is repent for putting our wants above God’s. We need to draw near to God and resist the devil (we’ll talk more next week about how Satan is trying to get you off focus). We need to humble ourselves and stop being so arrogant and selfish. Arrogant planning doesn’t consider that we could die tomorrow. Arrogant planning doesn’t consider that God could change it all in a second.
But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James. 4:16)
When we plan with heaven in view or plan for benefiting God’s kingdom, it changes how we evaluate a decision or what decisions we chase. It changes what we put on our calendar and what we spend our money on. It changes the way we view people. The book of Ecclesiastes (in the Old Testament) is a great book describing this life of decisions and pursuits. The author spent a lot of his life in pursuit of possessions, positions, and pleasure. A lot of his experiences showed to be unimportant, unfulfilling, and like chasing after wind. When life was just about those things…it was despairing. Yet, weaved through that book was a recognition of God’s activity in the world.
I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. 13 It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. 14 I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him. (Eccl. 3:12-14)
Our plans, decisions, and activities are not merely things we can do to occupy our time here on earth. They are meant to point us and others to the Creator. The objects of this world are never to be more valuable than pursuing the Creator of the objects. And still, they are also for us to enjoy. God often gives us plenty of options to choose from because there are many good things to enjoy in His creation. Sometimes, our decisions are between all good and godly options. Most likely, we are not struggling to decide between one perfect choice and one terrible choice. It’s between two really good options. And God is saying, “You don’t need me to pick for you. They are both good. Pick one and go with it.”
The Apostle Paul worked hard in moving people away from seeing how every decision or movement could be a sin against the law. He was renewing their thought process to think about grace, mercy, and the love of God through Christ. In his letter to the church at Corinth, he wrote concerning how some were struggling whether eating certain things were okay since previously it was thought to be a sin. He wrote about the freedom we have, but to also be considerate of those who think it is a sin. In the end, everyone needed to make the personal decision for how they thought it would bring God glory.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory. (1 Cor. 10:31)
PAUSE AND PRAY
Take a few moments and think of all the things God has placed in your life to enjoy. Thank God for those things. Evaluate whether you are pursing things in life for your own gain or for pointing people to God. Ask God to help you be more grateful for what He has given you and ask Him to help you think how you can use those objects to bring Him glory.
This is part of a 4 week devotional plan for the series “Figuring Out God’s Will.” For complete details, see here.