We’re all concerned about the future. Today, perhaps more than at any time in recent memory, we’re wondering, “What will next year bring?” Many anxiously look around, searching for what the future holds. Planning for the future is wise (See Proverbs 6:6-8.). But there’s a wrong way to go about it. The Apostle James described the wrong way:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit;” whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)
Many people are just like this one. The world might call them successful. But remember this definition of failure: Failure is succeeding at the wrong thing.
Everyone might call you a success, but you may be an abysmal failure.
Don’t make these mistakes.
Mistake #1: Self-centered planning
You run the numbers and say, “The world may be falling apart, but for me, next year’s going to be profitable.” Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills….” There’s a big “IF” in James 4:15.
The Bible doesn’t condemn planning or making a profit; it warns against not consulting God. He wants to show you His will and promises to guide you (See Isaiah 30:21 and Psalm 32:8). It’s heavenly sonar. We need that kind of relationship with the Lord where we say, “If the Lord wills.” We have a heavenly Guide, the Holy Spirit, to lead us: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
Would you like God to guide you this way in the coming year?
“As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14).
How wonderful to be led by the Spirit of God, who has a plan for every area of your life—education, business, marriage—not just your church life. If you want His plan, you can find it, using confession, consecration and concentration.
Is there some vice, bad habit, or attitude you’re purposefully overlooking? If you want God to lead you, you’re wasting your breath if you pray with unconfessed, unrepented-of sin (See 1 John 1:6.).
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18).
Get your heart right with God.
It’s not enough just to be clean; you need to be consecrated (See Proverbs 3:5-6.). Do you really want to know the will of God, or do you just want God to affirm your plans? Be mindful. Obey. Let Him lead you. Don’t say, “Listen, Lord, your servant is speaking.” Say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
You need quiet time with God to hear His still, small voice. You say, “God never speaks to me.” Are you intentionally setting aside specific time to get alone with God and listen?
Mistake #2: Self-confident presumption
Our lives are like a vapor (See James 4:14.). We’re here only for a little while. Don’t boast carelessly about the future. We don’t know what it holds (See Proverbs 27:1.).
We think, “I’m young.” This may be your final year. More than ever, given world conditions, we don’t know. Don’t presume upon the time you have (Again, see James 4:16.).
You may see your bank account and say, “I’ve got enough squared away. I’m all right.” You may not have 24 hours. Beware of self-confident presumption.
Mistake #3: Self-complacent procrastination
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
You may know God’s will but don’t want to do it, so you never get around to it.
Procrastination may be your biggest problem. Other sins—hate, violence—are obvious, but procrastination is more deceptive. It’s dangerous. Many people are lost because of it (See John 3:18.).
As you plan your future, say, “Lord, I don’t know what the future holds or how much time I have. Help me not to waste time but to ‘number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom’” (Psalm 90:12). May I live out the rest of my days, whether many or few, for You.”
How should you face your future? Give your heart to Jesus Christ. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and give you a hope that is wonderful and glorious.