Arrogance: James Study (Part 7)

Boasting about tomorrow

At some point in your life, you've probably made plans that have fallen through. How do you respond when things don't go according to your plans? Oftentimes for me, I don't react very well when my plans fall through. This month, we're going to be looking at just the last few verses in James 4 focusing on planning our life and arrogance.

When I read this, on the surface I don't see anything wrong. I make plans for my life all the time. If you're a business owner, you especially have to make business plans for the future – you can't just hope that things are going to work out by "going with the flow". While James isn't telling us we cannot make any plans for our life, he is calling us out for our arrogance towards the plans we make. Are we making plans for our life independently of God?

So how do we apply these verses to our life? Do we stop making plans for tomorrow and further in the future because we don't know what the future will bring? In the gospel of Luke, Jesus affirms the value of planning in chapter 14:

"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish. Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?" (28-31)

Jesus tells us that planning is important. We're told throughout the Bible to be a good steward of the resources God has provided for us, and planning comes with being a good steward. The key that James is telling us in chapter 4 is that God's plans trump our plans. We can (and should) make plans for the future; however, we need to be humble enough to recognize that God might have different plans and priorities for our life. When we recognize God has different plans for us, we must be obedient to make plans according to His calling.

In business, like James was talking about in verse 13, owners will see a need to pivot their business depending on their market. This is similar to what we must do with following God's plans for our life – if we're initially doing one thing, but God calls us to go in a different direction, we must pivot the plans for our life according to Him. Sometimes this might be a slight pivot; other times, it will be a major pivot.

Have you had times in your life where God called you to "pivot"? Were you obedient or did you want to hold tight to your existing plan?

As someone who loves planning for the future and would like to know exactly what's going to happen, I often get anxious overthinking about what the future holds. Here are a few different passages in the Bible that I like to reread when I'm feeling anxious about future plans.

Proverbs 16:9
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Jeremiah 29:11-13
For I know the plans I have for you , declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Luke 12:22-26
And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?
Matthew 6:33-34
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Let's now take some more time to focus on the very last verse:

Earlier in James, the talk of temptation comes up (1:12-15). Oftentimes, sinning is thought of just our actions – what we end up actually doing is against what God says. However, 4:17 is talking about "sins of omission" or being in the wrong for things we did NOT do. We shouldn't be going through life trying to just not do certain things. God also cares about the times you failed to do what is right because you decided to not do anything. Let's look at the Parable of the Good Samaritan to emphasize this point further:

This is a very well-known parable. A man is robbed and beaten, left lying on the side of the road. Both a priest and a Levite passed the man without helping him. Later, a Samaritan stopped and helped the man. How many times have you been like the priest and Levite in this parable and just turned a blind eye towards helping someone? Or how many times did you not do something you knew was the right thing to do because it was inconvenient for you and your current plans?

So often, we're stuck in our ways and focused on ourselves, that we forget how important it is to care for and love others around us. What we might be doing may not be a sin according to God, but it is just as bad to fail to do good deeds.

It can be so easy to live our lives as if God does not exist. We go through our day-to-day without pondering what God wants and instead focus on plans to meet our own hopes and dreams. We might be living a morally good life; however, we might be explicitly ignoring God's daily guidance. That's the problem James is emphasizing here! We must be willing to submit to God in ALL areas of our life. We need to open our hands to God instead of going through our life with a closed fist, clinging to the plans we want for our life. This month and going forward, let's work on being more flexible with our plans and being willing to "pivot" our life according to God's desires!

As an added challenge, reflect on a specific plan you currently have for your future. How would you feel if this plan falls through? Are you seeking guidance from God in this plan or are you living independently of God? Is there something God has been nudging you to do that you've been resisting?

Cornerstone Impact Update

Have you been following along with our "Biblical Approach to Finances" series? This is a series we started in September 2022, and we'll be wrapping it up soon. In case you missed it, in March we focused on understanding debt. You can find the blog post below:

A Biblical Approach to Finances: Understanding Debt
The reason we have been going through this series is because we want to honor God in all areas of our lives, including our finances. Through this series, we hope that you are learning how to align your finances with your faith. For the first several months we just focused


Over the last month, Eventide has shared a lot of good, informative content. Here are some of the things they've shared recently:

"So what are we rooting for in the world? Most investors haven't really thought through the purpose of investing or the power of investing to change the world." Hear what Eventide's CEO, Robin John thinks in their new podcast, "Invest by Design".

Eventide Asset Management on LinkedIn: What are we rooting for in the world?
“So what are we rooting for in the world? Most investors haven’t really thought through the purpose of investing or the power of investing to change the…

"Is work merely a means of earning an income, or is the work you do also meaningful in and of itself?

Eventide CEO Robin John believes that doing your job with excellence is one of the most significant ways to love your neighbor. Here, he explains what he means by the phrase 'intrinsic value' when used to describe work."

See the clip from the full podcast episode here:

Eventide Asset Management on LinkedIn: The Intrinsic Value of Work
Is work merely a means of earning an income, or is the work you do also meaningful in and of itself? Eventide CEO Robin John believes that doing your job…

What is our modern investing dilemma? How can values-based investing help us avoid two consequences of modern investing? Check out this article from Eventide's Director of Education, Shaun Morgan:

Our Modern Investing Dilemma - Eventide Asset Management
Values-based investing can help us avoid two consequences of modern investing


Inspire is another one of our BRI partners. They have a blog where they'll post updates on the company, BRI, and even little devotionals. Here are two of their most recent articles:

Biblical Investors Burn Brightly
Greatness is always measured as a relative term. That God is great means that He is exalted above other things. That God is supremely great means that He is exalted above every other thing.
Inspire Investing CEO Statement on Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index 2023
Too often, leaders at megabanks, big tech firms, and other large corporations act like they can brush aside concerns from the shareholders who actually own the company.

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There might still be some t-shirts in your size. You can check and order them in the form below:

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West Point, VA
Courtney is SEM's Marketing Manager. She joined SEM full-time in 2016. Outside of SEM, Courtney enjoys hiking with her golden retriever, Mya and volunteering at LifePointe Christian Church.