I’m a planner. I admit I can even obsess over it. I always want everything to be “just right.” These verses really gave me something to think about. When does planning become boastful? I suppose the answer to that is when you don’t invite God into the planning process.
James would suggest even our semantics matter. “What you ought to say is, ‘If the LORD wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’” How do we know what the LORD wants us to do? That’s the rub! I have been known to say, “God willing, we will do this or do that.” I like the confident peace I get from knowing my plans have been submitted to God requesting his guidance and blessing.
This is a good reminder for us. We cannot predict the future, so we need to be careful to not be overly confident of things that are out of our control. For instance, an outdoor wedding depends on good weather. James suggests our lives are like morning fog, “here a little while, then it’s gone.” We never know when we might be struck by lightening or hit by a bus to end our lives prematurely. Our planning must be flexible and reliant on God’s will.
The example of planning is what James used to speak to his audience about self-confidence. There are certainly many ways we exhibit our self-confidence, aren’t there? On a scale of 1-10, how self-confident do you think you are?
For a good part of my life, I struggled with self-confidence being in front of people. I would get especially nervous when I had to play piano music from memory in recitals and for auditions. My level of confidence was also closely linked to my self-worth. I never thought I was good enough.
Society encourages us to be self-reliant and boastful. I recall an interview question once asking me to explain why I was the perfect candidate for the job. That seems like a harmless question. Yet, if I wanted that job, I could not be wishy-washy but had to say something memorable, and probably boastful, oozing with self-confidence.
I don’t think James is trying to tell us to be door mats and be taken advantage of for not being confident. However, the danger is when that confidence becomes boastful or causes us to stop relying on God. Let me ask you this: why would you want to have confidence in yourself? Isn’t it true that anything that is good in us comes from Christ’s work in our life?
The Bible tells us we should be confident in God and his provision in our life. Jeremiah 17:7 says, “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.” The LORD spoke to saying, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) When we remember that God is always with us, we can have confidence when we call on his name.
The writer of Hebrews says it well. “So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6) Our confidence is in the LORD!
Let’s pray. Thank you, God, that I can put my trust in you. With you by my side, I have the confidence I need to get through each day. I seek your will for my life so I can live with the assurance I am pleasing you. Reveal your truth to me and direct my steps always. In Jesus’ name. Amen.