James 4:13

Saturday, 24 August 2019

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”;  James 4:13

James is beginning a fourth thought in this one chapter. He started out by speaking about pride and how it affects our relationship with God in verses 1-6. He then went to the idea of submitting to God through humility in verses 7-10. This was given as a cure for the pride of the first section. After that, he wrote two verses concerning judging others. And now, he will write about arrogant boasting concerning our future when our future is wholly unknown to us.

To open this thought, he begins with, “Come now.” It is a phrase given to grab the attention of the reader. Today, when we want to capture someone’s attention, we might say, “Check this out,” or “Get a load of this.” This is the same type of thought here. James is calling the mind to attention in order to make his new point.

He then speaks of anyone to whom the interjection might apply by saying, “you who say.” Whoever the coming statement applies to at any time is who is being spoken of here. It is his way of saying, “Does this apply to you?” If it does, then that person needs to consider James’ words. And the thought that may apply to any given person is, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, and make a profit.”

This sounds like a rather innocuous thing to say. It is certainly something that anyone might say at any time about any matter –

“Next year, we will take a trip to Israel.”
“I retire in three more years, and then I will start a new career.”
“I will be attending my daughter’s graduation in June.”

James is asking us to reflect on this type of thought so that he can correct our boastful attitude. He will begin to explain what he means in the next verse.

As a side note, the word translated as “buy and sell” is emporeuomai. It is used only here and 1 Peter 2:3. It is the root of our modern word “emporium,” and it especially means “to trade.”

If you have not read James before, what part of the statement do you think he is calling attention to? Is it the time reference? Is it the idea of traveling? Or, is it one (or all) of the three desired actions of 1) spending a year at the city, 2) buying and selling, or 3) making a profit?

Life application: Until the full idea of what James is referring to is revealed, let us simply remember that business and making money is part of our lives. From the very fall of man, the toil of labor to sustain ourselves has been something intended for man to do –

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19

Therefore, to sit around idly accepting handouts, when there is gainful work to be had, is actually a violation of our intended purpose. There are times when work can’t be found or when man is physically limited, but this is the exception and not the norm. Almost everyone can be productive and there is always something to accomplish if one wants to put his foot forward and accept responsibility.

As the Bible says, it is the sluggard who complains that there is a lion in the streets (meaning the slothful man will find ANY reason to stay inside and watch TV rather than getting out and working). If you are not producing according to your abilities (other than such reasons as a poor economy, ill-health, etc.), then you are bringing discredit upon yourself. Have respect for yourself – there is no lion in the street.

Heavenly Father, please give each of us the ability, the desire, and the opportunities to be productive. May we not whittle away our years doing nothing. Instead, may our works be such that they bring You great glory. And as we are blessed to be productive, remind us to turn and cheerfully give a portion back to You – in gratitude for what You have done for us. Amen.

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