We turn now to a new section in James, to James 4:13–5:6. There are two paragraphs: 4:13-17 and 5:1-6. Each addresses a slightly different audience, the first one rich merchants and the second one rich farmers. The first is guilty of presumption, the second of oppression. Here is the text from the first paragraph:
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. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
Let’s begin with this: our plans and their (at times) presumptiveness.
Do we presume we will have tomorrow?
Do we presume that tomorrow is in our grasp?
Do we presume that tomorrow is in our control?
Do we presume not only that we have tomorrow but that we know what will happen?
Do we presume also that we know what will happen because of our control of our tomorrows?
James will weigh in heavy words against these kinds of presumption, not because he doesn’t believe in planning but because he does believe in a kind of planning.
James also weighs in here and in the next paragraph against attitudes and behaviors connected to money, business and wealth.