Act Now

Read James 4:13-17

There is a famous English proverb which has an origin that is difficult to trace: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” This proverb is an attempt to communicate the idea that an intention is meaningless unless it is acted upon. How many of us are guilty of saying something like “I will visit with my elderly aunt when my life slows down in a bit.” Often we make such a statement with some desire to act upon it but unfortunately something leads to the aunt dying and we never make the visit. Each of us can think of other examples of situations when we claim we are going to do something but we do not follow through and the opportunity is lost.

The writer of the letter of James is speaking about such a situation. Here it is pointed out that we can earnestly make future plans but there is no guarantee the future will come to be. The Lord is the only one who knows our future and where the next day will take us. The writer clearly communicates the finality and brevity of our existence. Anyone who proclaims the future plans which will occur is acting as if the future is in the individual’s control. This attitude is described here as arrogant.

The Lord does not have an issue with us making plans. Where we run into a problem is when we see those plans as guaranteed and under our control. This is why we are reminded here that we are not to put off to tomorrow the acts of love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. Each day we are given opportunities to show these expressions as we act upon them. The good which we can do for one another should be carried out at the time the opportunity is presented instead of planning to get around to it another day.

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