What About Tomorrow?

     We like to plan, don’t we? We want to have all our ducks in a row. Like the Scouts of old we want to be prepared. We plan with our money, our jobs, our time, our relationships, we plan it all out. Trouble is, we don’t know the first thing about what is going to happen tomorrow.

     Do not misunderstand; I am not opposed to planning. I do a little of it myself. We all have to do some planning for tomorrow in order to get anything done. What can cause us problems is thinking that in some way our plans will always work out the way we think they should. When they don’t we get all sorts of disappointed, down and disgusted. We might remember as I often do the line from Robert Burns about the best laid plans of mice and men.

     A better source of guidance is the Bible. God’s Word is designed by Him to equip us for all eventualities, even those we do not see coming. The Lord Himself discussed the matter in Matthew 6:19-34. The passage concludes with these words: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

     One of the best passages on the subject of planning is from James. We understand that the James who wrote the Biblical epistle was the half brother of the Lord and came to be an elder in the church in Jerusalem. We see what kind of man he was by reading his speech at the Jerusalem meeting recorded by Luke in Acts 15:13-21. He was a decisive individual, well acquainted with Scripture and able to boil an issue down to its essential points. He did this in Jerusalem and he did it in his epistle to the twelve tribes.

     Consider as an example of James’s straightforwardness the second verse of the letter: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations.” He does not mince words, here or elsewhere. People have a tendency to whine and complain when trials come into their lives. James tells us just to quit that and count it all joy. “The trying of your faith works patience.” Trials and temptations are part of life. Don’t let them surprise you. Look them square in the eye and deal with them relying all the while on the Lord.

     Then we come to James 4:13-15. “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow, we will go into such a city and continue there a year, and buy and sell and get gain. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

Here is the principle about planning as well as the way to apply that principle. Life as a vapor and we are not guaranteed any time here at all. The day we live is all we have and we may not get all of that. How do we apply this sobering principle? By saying and meaning about all our plans, “If the Lord will.” We are not prohibited from planning. Indeed here James even encourages doing “this and that.” We are commanded, however, to place our plans in the context of the characteristics of this life. I can make a good plan but I had better know the whole time that everything is up to the Lord. This world is not our home.

     Some folks try to live without God. They even rejoice in being on their own (James 4:16). This attitude is not only wrong and foolish, it is evil. James closes this section with a reminder for those of us who know these truths but don’t obey them: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).