James: Do The Right Thing, Today

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.  Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”  But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.  Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

James 4:13-17

“I am going to the theater.  Come and see me in the morning,” said Abraham Lincoln to a friend who wanted to talk to him as he was getting into his carriage on his way to his fateful evening at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865.  He took his last breath at 7:22 the following morning.

“We’re headed into nut country today.  But Jackie, if somebody wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it?” said John F. Kennedy to his wife a little over two hours before Lee Oswald shot him to death with a rifle from a window in a tall building.  Two days later, while Oswald was being handcuffed to a Dallas police detective, the detective joked, “Lee, if anybody shoots at you, I hope they’re as good a shot as you are.”  “Aw, they ain’t going to be anybody shooting at me.  You’re just being melodramatic,” replied Oswald less than five minutes before Jack Ruby shot him.

Actor Paul Walker, 40, had no idea as he sat down in the passenger seat of a friend’s Porsche that he was minutes away from a car crash that would claim his life in 2013.  Three years later, actor Anton Yelchin, 27, got out of his Jeep Grand Cherokee and walked away from it to check his locked gate and get his mail, forgetting to put the vehicle’s transmission into park.  The jeep rolled down the steep incline of his driveway after him and killed him by trapping him against a pillar and a security fence.  He did not have any idea that his young life was seconds from ending as he started down that hill to get his mail.

None of us know how long God has granted us life.  We have no idea if tomorrow, or even the rest of today, will come to us.  Sooner or later, death comes for us all…followed by God’s judgment (Heb. 9:27; 2 Cor. 5:10).  If we are given the gift of a long life ending from natural causes at an old age, our life would still be anywhere from 60 to 100 years, give or take.  From history’s perspective, that is a very short time.  From the view of eternity, it is indeed “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”  And none of us are promised even that.

Even if tomorrow comes, we have no idea “what (our) life will be like tomorrow.”  How many families who sat down to supper together while traveling across the North Atlantic on the RMS Titanic on the evening of April 14, 1912 knew that they were eating their last meal together and that within hours their husbands and fathers would drown or die of hypothermia?  Did they know they would meet the dawn of the new day as newly made widows and orphans?  Of course not…and yet it still happened with no warning.

Indeed, we will see tomorrow and do whatever we planned to do only if the Lord wills it.  Assuming that God will definitely grant us tomorrow is in fact the boastful arrogance James says it is, the same kind of arrogance that caused some foolish person to claim of the Titanic that “God Himself could not sink this ship.”  It puts oneself in the place of God.  Such is truly evil.

What does God want you to do?  Do you need to put Christ on in baptism?  Do you need to repent of sin in your life?  Do it today, right now.  Don’t procrastinate and thereby sin.

— Jon

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