Don’t Boast in Tomorrow
Call to Worship:
New City Catechism
Q. 48 What is the church?
A. God chooses and preserves for himself a community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. God sends out this community to proclaim the gospel and prefigure Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their love for one another. [2 Thessalonians 2:13]
Our Gracious Heavenly Father, it is you who sustains life. Nature is upheld by your power. The sun shines by your command. Tomorrow is in your hands. We pray then that you would impress this truth upon our hearts in this time when the world is in a panic for what tomorrow holds. We confess this morning that through the routine of our daily lives we have been prone to assume that we can know for sure what will happen tomorrow: that by our planning, by our work, by our wisdom, we can control things that are truly out of our control. So we confess our pride and ask for your grace to work in us humility in all our planning and in all our work. May the uncertainty of tomorrow that has accompanied this pestilence cause people to see their misplaced hopes and pride and cry out to you, the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow. We pray all this in the name of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. One God now and forever. Amen.
Boasting in Tomorrow
When someone gives you a good and meaningful gift it isn’t hard to be thankful in that moment. But what happens when every day you are given the same good and meaningful gift? Day after day it comes to you without interruption or delay. Day after day you use it, spend it, consume it. Sometimes wisely, sometimes foolishly. But in either case, you have grown so accustomed to receiving the very same gift day after day, the gratitude you once had slips away. And it doesn’t take very long for you to assume that you have it coming to you, to take it for granted, and to even feel like you deserve the gift.
James 4:13-16 says, 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” – 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. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Since we’ve had to cancel our worship gatherings due to the virus (or pestilence to use the Biblical word for it) that is spreading around the world, I have been asking myself the question, “How might God use this unique situation for the glory of his name and the good of his people?” And in particular how might He be using it amongst us? What can we learn from this? How can we grow from this? Each week I plan to share with you an answer to those questions and here is the first.
Daily routine is a grace in our lives, but the danger of routine without interruption is that we can lose perspective and become prideful without even being aware of it. In Peter’s second letter he says that in the end some people will scoff at the promise of Christ’s return and they will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of Creation.” They had interpreted the regularity of each day happening as the last (up to that point) as meaning that they would always have the gift of tomorrow. In their daily routine without interruption they had come under the delusion that they were in control of life and that there really was no one who was granting them life and breath. That there really was no one who would one day come and judge the earth.
And this is where our James passage comes in for us. We haven’t questioned the return of our Lord as those that Peter spoke of, but have we grown so accustomed to receiving the gift of tomorrow from the Lord that we have taken it for granted? Have we in pride been thinking that we are in control of tomorrow, that by our own work and plans we can secure our future? Well, perhaps when it comes to this kind of pride, pestilence is the cure. When stock markets crash, the economy tanks, our source of income is in question, and our health is in jeopardy, we get a dose of sobering medicine that wakes us up to the reality that tomorrow actually belongs to the Lord.
Should nothing of our efforts stand no legacy survive. Unless the Lord does raise the house in vain its builders strive. To you who boast tomorrow’s gain, tell me what is your life? A mist that vanishes at dawn, all glory be to Christ!
Every good thing that comes to us each day is a gift from the Lord. The breath in our lungs. The house that shelters us. The food that nourishes us. So, may the interruption of our plans, of our routine, of our normal schedule, cause us to remember that; and to confess our pride and grow in gratitude and grace. We may make our plans for tomorrow, but it is the Lord who establishes our steps. (Proverbs 16:9)