Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain”; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
The way boasting shows itself in this text is through unbelief in the sovereignty of God over the ordinary things of life. A man simply says, “I’m driving up to Duluth for Christmas.” And James says, “Don’t be so sure.” Instead say (v. 15), “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall go to Duluth for Christmas.”
Do you believe that God is sovereign over whether you get home from church today? Do you believe he is sovereign over your business and your travels and your health? “If the Lord wills, we shall LIVE . . . ” (v. 15).
James says that not believing in the sovereign rights of God to run your life and take your life results in a life of arrogance. The way to battle this pride is to yield to the sovereignty of God in all the details of your life, and rest in his awesome ability to work for those who wait for him.
Likewise you who are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.
Here Peter says that all of us should be clothed with humility. And then he says that one of the things we will do in that humility is cast our anxieties on the Lord.
Why is this casting of our anxieties on the Lord the opposite of pride? Because pride does not like to admit that it has any anxieties, and it especially does not like to admit that it needs help from someone else to cope with them.
So here we are right at the nub of what faith really is. Faith admits the need for help. Pride won’t. Faith banks on God to give that help. Pride won’t. Faith casts anxieties on God. Pride won’t.
Therefore one way to battle the unbelief of pride is to admit freely that you have anxieties, and to cherish the privilege of being invited to cast them on God.
One very practical way to cultivate the atmosphere of humility and faith in the family and the church is to express personal need for God when you pray.
You may say that you pray that way in secret. I thank God if you do. But I appeal to you for the sake of love and for the sake of truth that in your prayers with others you not conceal the very heart of faith. If we don’t hear each other pray brokenhearted prayers of personal need and desperation, our fellowship will be superficial, the humility of faith will be stifled, pride will lurk at the door, and we will become a self-deceived, sick church.