Three Cautions

Scripture: James 4:13-17

13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.

17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.


This study through the epistle of James has been life changing. James is a powerful book, there is conviction in every word and tonight’s message is no different from the previous 14. Again tonight, we are looking as some admonitions, some cautions, warning from James.


The Jews were very gifted at commerce and when new cities were established in the Greco-Roman world, Jews were actually invited and welcomed in these new cites because they brought wealth and commerce. James uses such a businessman for an illustration:

“Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.”

There is no sin in planning: the sin is in presuming. Solomon said, “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.” My is fond of saying, “We are not in control.” He is right, we aren’t. We have absolutely no control or say about the future. Man proposes but God disposes.

Certain things in this life are a fact; you need no faith to believe them. The uncertainty of the future is one of them. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow and neither does anyone else. The rich fool in Luke 12 presumed on tomorrow: matter of fact, he assumed he would have many years but he died that very night. He never enjoyed one dime of the wealth he had amassed.

Although we are certainly not in control and do not need to boast about tomorrow; God is most definitely in control and He holds the future in His hand. So there is no need to panic or fear. Jesus said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will bring it’s own worries. Today’s trouble is enough to worry about.”

Live one day at a time and trust the future to Christ.

My mother was a firm believer in divine providence. Any time she heard me boast about what I was going to do, she would always interrupt and say, “Son, LORD willing you are going to such and such.” It became a habit. Last night coming home from the MBA Annual Meeting which is a 3 hour business meeting, I said to myself, “One more of these boring babies and I’ll be through with annual meeting.” The still small voice said, “Lord willing.” I immediately confessed to the LORD and acknowledged the fact that I may not be here next year. We don’t have a day promised, let alone a year.

Don’t leave God out of your plans. This applies to Merchants and Missionaries, Businessmen and Clergymen. It is foolish to leave Him out


James said, “Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”

Job said, “How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear.

David said,Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.”

All the health food in the world is not going to keep you here long. Plastic surgery certainly will not help. It is what it is: we are all aging and aging fast. No one has found the fountain of youth: the liberals have discovered the fountain of stupid.

I see people driving those tent pegs deeper each day and I think, what a waste of time, we are not staying here. We are simply passing through. Life is short and it will soon pass and only what you do for Jesus will last.


James said, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”

What was Dives sin [Rich man in Luke 16]? Was it gluttony, greed, sexual immorality, drugs, what sin sent him to hades? Was he a thief, did he embezzle, did he acquire his wealth is a less than honest way? Jesus mentions none of the above.

His sin was that a beggar named Lazarus laid at his front gate and he didn’t do one thing about it. Did he know Lazarus was there? Did he feel an oughtness to help him? Dives has millions, he lives in luxury every day and Lazarus is sick and starving. How intelligent would a man need to me to know that he ought to help the beggar? He knew what the right thing to do was, he just didn’t do it and James says, that is sin.” Basically, Dives did nothing just like the unjust steward in Matthew 25.

I am sure there is a Lazarus at your gate. Have you seen him/her or do you do like Dives and pretend that he is not there? Could it be that we move too fast, that we are too busy to notice? Could it be that we just don’t care?

What about the sheep and goat judgment in Matthew 25. What did the goats do? What was it that they failed to do? {minister to those in need around them}

What was the sin of the Priest and Levite in the story of the good Samaritan? Too busy to stop…too afraid to stop…too self-centered to stop…too indifferent to stop.

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”