James 4:13-17. 

13 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”; 14 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. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

It seems self evident, in this country at least, that I can get up any morning and go where I want and do what I want and plan for my future.  It is really pretty silly to think otherwise; that we should not plan and make provision for what we are going to do from day to day.  Prudent management we call it.  Each new year wise managers and investors and home owners and “prudent people” plan stuff.  Budgeting and metrics are the stuff of many peoples lives and we denigrate the one who lives without a plan as much as we do one who has no clue.

Here comes James who calls what we admire, “evil”.  We are confronted again with how counter intuitive and strange our faith really is.  A teacher of preachers said that this is a text that has two major issues for us to think about.  One is “the bland assumption that life is in our hands and we can make our plans as we please is folly since life is unstable and our ignorance of the future is complete”.  The second issue is the moral and spiritual implication of the mind that leaves God out of all calculations; that is a mind that boasts in its own competence, and that boasting is evil”.  This gets to the root of the “functional atheist” we talked about a few blogs ago, in which I talked about how God can become our “dread”.  We are going to get there soon, but for now as the New Year is still new, it makes sense to think about the fact that “the events of history are in the hand of God to the end of the victory of His Son and His people”.  Christ’s victory is complete and conclusive and that is why mercy and missions is so important today as we “will to live for, in and through God”.  When we don’t, the terrible Ifs accumulate.

Quotes are from Concordia Theological Monthly Vol XIX No. 12 – Homiletics – Richard Caemmerer