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Question

How should we live our lives when we don’t know what tomorrow will bring (James 4:14)?

what tomorrow will bring
Answer


In his only letter included in the Bible, James encourages his readers that there is a way we should live our lives when we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. He also reminds his readers of the brevity of life: “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” (James 4:14).

James challenges the planner to live in humility. He warns against making assumptions. A merchant might plan that tomorrow he travels to such and such a city and resides there for a year to engage in business and earn a profit (James 4:13). James reminds the merchant who plans his future that he doesn’t know what his life will be like tomorrow. Plans should be made in humility.

Because we don’t control tomorrow, we ought to have a different attitude about our planning. Rather than take for granted that all will be as we expect, we should acknowledge that our plans depend on what the Lord wills. Our attitude when announcing our plans to ourselves and others should be that we will do as we plan if the Lord wills (James 4:15). If God allows, we will live, and, if He allows, we will engage in the various activities we are planning.

James offers clear direction about how we should live our lives when we don’t know what tomorrow may bring. We ought to live humbly and in the recognition that God is in control, not us. There is no room for arrogance in our planning. James reminds that boasting about our plans is evil (James 4:16).

God’s constant desire is that His people walk humbly before Him. He has given instruction about how we should live our lives when we don’t know what tomorrow may bring. Through the prophet Micah, God expresses what He considers good for His people: to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). This is the same message God communicates through James. A person ought to humble himself in the presence of the Lord, and the Lord will exalt that person (James 4:10). God opposes those who are proud, but He gives to those who are humble (James 4:6). These exhortations help us to understand how important it is to God that people walk in humility before Him.

Solomon also wrote about how we should live our lives when we don’t know what tomorrow may bring. He talked about the importance of the fear of the Lord—that it is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and that it comes from the Word of God (Proverbs 2:6). God knows all things, and we have limited perspectives. If we acknowledge Him as the Creator who is sovereign over all, we have a starting point. From there, we can know how to live our lives when we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. God used James, Micah, Solomon and many others to help us understand that humility before our Creator is the only way to successfully navigate life.

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How should we live our lives when we don’t know what tomorrow will bring (James 4:14)?
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This page last updated: January 18, 2023