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”— 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. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)
The title of today’s devotion, Pride and Procrastination, may seem a bit strange but I believe this is a topic that must be addressed. In our focal Scripture, James talks about an issue that we see often in our lives today. In the practical advice James is sharing, he points to a person who is making plans apart from God or seeking God’s will.
As we’ve already looked at during our devotion, pride is being self-reliant instead of God-reliant. James rightly helps us see the foolishness of those who make plans for their lives apart from God. Question, before you make decisions in your life, do you stop to pray and seek God’s will? Or, like so many others, do you make plans and later ask God to bless them even if your plans aren’t His plans? Simpler yet, is God an afterthought in the things you plan and do, or do you seek Him and His will before and during the things you’re planning and doing?
Embedded in our focal Scripture there is a stark reminder that should make us all pause. In verse 14 James says this: What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Let me put it a bit plainer, you are going to die one day. For some of you, your death may be decades from now. For others, death will come unexpectedly and quickly. This isn’t a statement I make to evoke fear but one I say to remind us to stop procrastinating. Stop pretending like you are going to live forever. Stop putting off the things God has told you to do as if your life is going to continue on uninterrupted forever.
It is critical that when we are planning and making decisions that we start with and continue to engage God in prayer. Scripture reminds us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It is also important for us to move forward when we have direction from God. Pride and procrastination both lead us to walk in ways that are contrary to the Scripture and God’s will for our lives.
As a Baptist, I must admit that sometimes our church governance is the focal point of many jokes by brothers and sisters in other denominations. The joke normally goes like this, Baptist love to eat together and they send everything to a committee. First, I love the fact that we eat together often. I believe this is Biblical and is a wonderful part of our church culture. The second part of the joke, about committees, requires a bit more attention. The point of the joke is that Baptist church committees are where good ideas go to die.
There comes a point where we have prayed and sought God’s will. God has made His will clear through the Scripture and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Yet, we continue to pray instead of doing what God told us to do. When we procrastinate making important life changes, culture changes, or hard decisions even after God has revealed His will and purpose, we are ignoring the inevitable. I want to challenge you today to consider how this applies in your own life. What have you continued to pray about even after God has revealed His will to you?
Today, my hope is that we would be a people who start with seeking God’s will. May we be a church who persistently prays for God to show us His will for our lives personally, our church corporately, and our community. I also hope that when God speaks, we will obey, with purpose and urgency.
Father, forgive me for moments where I fail to pause and pray. Lord, I pray that you would teach me to actively seek Your face and guidance. Help me to pray without ceasing. Jesus, help me to understand that Your way is always the best way for my life. Help me to respond obediently and with purpose when You speak. Help me not to get stuck in a cycle of procrastination when Your guidance is clear. Holy Spirit, please lead me every day and reveal to me ways I am not submitting to You. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.