Read: James 3:13-17

"Come now, you who say,'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'-- 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.' 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 3:13-17 ESV)

After a very long winter, the flowers are starting to bloom and trees are developing small buds. The indication everywhere we look is that spring is here. And that means that people are making plans. They have plans for painting the deck, planting more flowers, and some are planning for a small remodeling project over the summer. Others are talking about taking a trip to places they have never been before. Lots of plans! And many of those plans are well-crafted, elaborate plans.

I like to plan and I am assuming you do as well. But there is a subtle danger in planning that we often overlook.  It is the danger of assuming that if we plan—and if we plan well—then our plans should come to fruition. Read that sentence again. Do you “hear” the demanding spirit? Our text for the week says that such assumptions are pride-centered and sinful (cf. vv. 16-17). Arrogant, self-assured planning is not the way Christ-followers are to live their lives.

So how should we plan? Read the text again and notice a couple of things. First, notice that the Bible teaches that human beings have “limited” freedom and responsibility in planning. We know this is true because when we compare the presumptive actions of verse 13 with the corrective statement in verse 15, we humans still have responsibilities to plan. What James is speaking against is the arrogant assumption that if we plan, success should follow.

Second, notice how the author views God in verse 15. He is “the Lord,” who is portrayed as having authority over absolutely everything. He can call for things to be raised up, and he can order their destruction. He is the sovereign God who reigns over the entire universe (cf. 1 SAM 2:6; DAN 4:34-35).

Those two observations lead us to an important way of thinking when it comes to anything we do in life.


Your most effective plans will be the ones you submit to the Lord for his authorization.

And just what would we be doing if we “surrendered” our plans to the God who rules over everything? Three things come to mind from our text.

  • First, we would allow for flexibility in our planning. That is, we might calculate ways of getting things done. We might even determine how much something will cost and the time it will take to complete a project. But in the back of our minds we will say, “God, you have the right to change this plan in any way you want. You are God and I am not!” So embrace flexibility, and allow God to do whatever he wants with your plans.
  • Second, we would continually remind ourselves that God is always good. The God who saved us and the One who has control over everything is not a vindictive, sadistic God. He does not delight in seeing us frustrated. Any interruption he makes in our plans is always in conjunction with the greater plan to make us more and more like Jesus Christ (ROM 8:28-29). So keep reminding yourself that God is always good—even when your plans change.
  • Third, we would craft all of our plans as an act of worship. Scripture commands us to do everything to the glory of God (1 COR 10:31). That means whether we are planning a vacation or mapping out strategies at work, the planning as well as the execution of the plan are acts of worship. We are ultimately living for God and not for ourselves.

Yes, there is something about this time of year that brings out the best…PLANS…in all of us. So what have you planned for the next several months of your life? By all means plan! But keep in mind that your best plans will be SURRENDERED PLANS.

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