Remembering That Tomorrow Is Not Guaranteed

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 3, 2014 0 comments

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money’. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’. As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).

You might look at the above verses as depressing and hopeless, or like me, you might look at them as a much-needed wakeup call regarding how you live and carry yourself. What do you think of when you think of boasting? Personally, the only meaning it has ever carried for me is the idea of promoting my achievements, especially in comparison to others. I think the above verses reveal that boasting is even broader than that. Basically, anytime we think of ourselves higher than we should or “count our chickens before they are hatched” to use an old saying, we are boasting. James reminds us here that there is nothing about us or our lives that is so special apart from God that guarantees we will see tomorrow. The statement that compares our lives to a mist that is here one minute and gone the next is not meant to be an insult. It’s meant to alert us to the fact that every day we have is a gift because we don’t deserve it and we have no control over whether we receive it. The question is how does that change us?

For me, I can honestly say that I have had times in my life, even after I became a Christian, that I became comfortable in my sin. I don’t mean that I didn’t suffer consequences. I most certainly did. But I think the sin was too enjoyable to give up. Rather than living as if Jesus is my Lord over EVERY area of my life, it was as if I became comfortable knowing that I was “doing a lot for Jesus” and convinced myself that the good things I was doing gave me the right to sin in other areas of my life. This is what is often known as “greasy grace”. Allowing this nonsense to fill my mind causes me to “slip” on the grace I have received because I’m choosing to view it as a license to sin instead of what it actually is – a force from God that allows me to overcome any temptation and conquer any sin as I remain in Christ.

One time while I was a Christian, sin had reached a point in my life where it almost destroyed me, but I thank God that he worked in my heart to have me confess it to those who were most hurt by my actions and also to two close Christian brothers who not only didn’t judge me, but also encouraged me that I could still serve the Lord in the ways by which he has called me and stood by me as I walked the path of letting God restore me. I’m also thankful that the church I was just beginning to pastor at the time graciously accepted my request to wait to officially become their leader while God did what I needed him to do in my heart.

At some point during that time, I remember reading my Bible while traveling back to Pennsylvania with my girlfriend to see my family. The verse that I “just happened” to see that day was Proverbs 29:1. It says, “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy”. Wow! It hit me like a ton of bricks and also reminded me of the verses I shared at the start of this writing. Is it likely that all people everywhere who remain in their sin will not see tomorrow? Most of us would say “no”. However, we must remember that God has done it before with the Great Flood. There is no guarantee he won’t do it again. Plus, the point of the verse is that anyone who stubbornly remains in his sin does so either because he doesn’t care about the consequences or doesn’t understand the full scope of them. Thus, his destruction will be SUDDEN to him even when others see it coming!

The Scriptures I’ve shared in this writing have changed my view of life quite a bit. That doesn’t mean I still won’t sin. Sometimes, I might even do it stubbornly. But I have a much clearer picture of what’s at stake. When I’ve wanted to sin and even made plans to do so, the reminder that God could accomplish his purposes on this earth without me and that I could be “suddenly destroyed without remedy” to the point where I never see tomorrow has caused me to turn away from the sin. I’m now a part of an accountability group with two other men I trust. We meet every week to confess our sins, ask forgiveness for them, and discuss how we can eradicate them from our lives. We understand God’s love and grace for us, but we also know that he has not promised us tomorrow. I’m thankful for God’s work in my life and how he has used others to help and encourage me along the way. But that’s not all.

This reminder that came from the Holy Spirit has also changed how I view others and God’s mission, which he has entrusted to us, to make the gospel known to all. I’ve realized that every person with whom I come into contact might need me to tell them about Jesus, whether they know him well already, used to know him but don’t anymore, or have never known him. This doesn’t mean it depends on me because God can use someone else if he wants to. However, the knowledge that not only am I not guaranteed tomorrow but no one else is either has given me a renewed focus on sharing the good news. This doesn’t mean just standing on a street corner and preaching. This means building relationships with those who are regularly in my life so that hopefully they see Jesus in me. It means being prepared and observant to those “chance” encounters (which are actually God-ordained) with complete strangers who need to hear about Jesus’ love for them. You see, knowing that tomorrow is not guaranteed is not just about making sure we don’t do the wrong things. It’s also about taking the opportunities we have to DO the right things, because we know we might not get another chance. For this reason, James ends the passage I quoted above with an important truth. “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (4:17). I urge you to live for Christ TODAY!