Walk This Way
Week 8: James 4:13-5:6
The book of James provides wisdom for maturing in Christ. Mature believers endure trouble with steadfast hope. They treat people with loving fairness. They demonstrate faith with practical good works. They keep a tight rein on their tongues and submit to God’s desires. These are some of the marks of maturity we have encountered so far in our study of James. This week we will see that in addition to all this, mature believers face the future with a humble trust in God. If you feel you are lacking in resources or power to affect change, you might face the future with anxiety or worry. If you have the privileges of money, education, skill, or social connections, you might face the future with arrogance, thinking you can safely handle whatever comes. If you have a lot of power of your own, you might use it for self-indulgence or control over others. All of these approaches flow from a belief that God is irrelevant for our future – that we are responsible for determining our own future. But James says we don’t even know what tomorrow holds, let alone months or years down the road. Fortunately, we have a loving God who is both strong and good. We can trust him. He expects us to plan and use the gifts he has given but asks us to submit our plans and resources to him. Are you ready to do that?
What word best describes how you are thinking about the next year of your life? Hopeful? Worried? Clear? Uncertain? Eager? Another word?
Getting into the Text:
1. (James 4:13-15) James presents two ways of thinking about the future. What is wrong with the first way? Isn’t wise planning a good thing? Which of these two ways of thinking best describes the way you usually plan for the future?
2. (James 4:16-17) Why does James say this is really about the sin of arrogance? How does this issue of the way we talk about the future relate to James 4:6-7a? How is verse 17 a relevant conclusion to this paragraph?
3. (James 5:1-6) Do you think the ‘you’ in James 5:1 is referring to people inside the church or outside the church? Compare and contrast this passage with James 1:9-11 and with Luke 12:13-21. What common themes do you see? What is the connection between this passage and the way we plan for the future?
1. What decisions regarding the future are you facing right now? How can you act appropriately on James 4:13-15 as you make your plans?
2. Are any of the ‘You have …’ statements in James 5:1-6 convicting for you personally? If so, what will you do in response?
3. Our view of the future is directly tied to what we believe about God’s character. Do you really believe that he is good? Do you really believe that he is strong enough to do anything? Do you really believe that he cares how you live your life? Do you really believe that he is active in this world? Trust is built over time by taking risks that lean on God’s character and allowing him to demonstrate that he is who he says he is. What risk might he be asking you to take this week?