by the Rev. Larry Wilson
13 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 make a profit"—14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
Your obedience plays no role in your justification. It is Christ’s doing that secures your right standing with God, not yours. But in your sanctification, God enables you to walk in good works (see Ephesians 2:8–10). In this context, God specifically calls you to consciously and deliberately walk in light of his providence. "Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that'" (v. 15).
Q. 18. What are God's works of providence?
A. 18. God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them and all their actions to his own glory.
Ephesians 1:11 — "He works all things after the counsel of his will."
Romans 8:28 — "And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose."
Now, God is not saying that you just need to incant the words, "Lord willing" or "if God wills" or "God willing," and that will magically create a spiritual mindset. But, he is saying that this does need very much to be your heart-attitude, which you reflect even in your speech, to show that you are humbly depending upon the Lord, rather than worldly self-centered, self-focused, and self-exalting.
What’s the bottom line? The bottom line is, seek by trusting and following your faithful Savior Jesus Christ to line up your thoughts, your words, and your behavior with the biblical truth summarized in Westminster Confession 5:1 —
"God, the great Creator of all things,
upholds, directs, disposes, and governs all creatures, actions, and things,
from the greatest even to the least,
by his most wise and holy providence,
according to his infallible foreknowledge,
and the free and immutable counsel of his own will,
to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, & mercy."
In a nutshell, "practice the presence of God." Day by day, moment by moment, step by step, walk in the godliness of conscious, humble dependence on the living God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—your Creator and Savior and providential Ruler.
Click here for background on the author of Are You For Real?: Meditations in the Epistle of James for Secret or Family Worship.