This article on James 4:15 is about our plans and the will of God.

Source: Clarion, 2008. 2 pages.

James 4:15 - D.V.

Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’.

James 4:15

D.V. Certainly you have seen these initials before! We expect to see them on invitations to events like weddings, anniversaries, and graduations. We hope to see them regularly in our church bulletins. But what do these initials “D.V.” really mean? They stand for the Latin words: Deo Volente – meaning, “God willing.” Or, as we may read in Scripture, “The Lord willing.”

This expression comes from the letter of James. In fact, this expression is sometimes called “the condition of James.” These are words which God says we ought to speak when planning for the future: the Lord willing! Yet how often do we actually say these words when making plans for the future? And when we write these words, how much thought goes into writing them?

The Scripture passage in which these words are found addresses the concern of making plans without acknowledging the Lord. Now, making plans for the future is part of our everyday life. Every day we make all sorts of plans. We make short-terms plans like what to do on a Saturday afternoon; what housework will be done this week; which file to tackle first in the office; which homework assignment to do next. We also make long-term plans like that our summer vacation will be in July; that we’ll buy a new VW in September; that I’ll propose marriage to my girlfriend next spring!

Good planning is part of a responsible life before our Lord God. But do we consciously make all our plans in the Lord? Do we realize that we can do nothing without his blessing? Do we factor the Lord God into our planning at all?

In his letter, James expresses concern about certain believers who did not consciously make all their plans in the Lord. There were these travelling businessmen who said, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money!” (v 13). They were so sure of what they were going to do. They were going to do it all and they would get rich doing it! Their success was guaranteed – nothing could go wrong for them. What boasting and bragging!

Where was the Lord God in all of this? Sure, they would mention Him, but more as an afterthought. For they could do it all themselves; they were self-made men. And how often don’t we admire such self-made men, those who are so sure about what they’re going to do?

But the Lord God says: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.”1

And how true this is! We may have our plans, but a completely different situation can transpire. You may have all your plans for tomorrow, but then you may be taken away by the Lord in the night. What is your life, really? As James writes: “You are a mist that appears a little while and then vanishes” (v 15). You and I are like mist – we are here and then we’re suddenly gone! For us, life is fleeting.

Yet we are surely in the hands of our Lord and Father. He gives us life. He sustains our life. He alone knows how things will unfold today and tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year! He is truly sovereign over all. Everything will happen according to his secret will. As believers, let us acknowledge this, time and again. We ought to say: “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that!”

We do not know what the Lord’s secret will is. We cannot look into the future. And so we must leave our lives in his capable hands. Sure, we must plan wisely for the future, but always remembering that the Lord God directs and guides in his way. He carries out his perfect plan and his plans include us.

Things may change for us as the days go by. But what God requires each day is obedience to his revealed will. Having done what we must do, we leave it to Him to bless our endeavours. Then we can thankfully say, Deo Volente!

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