II JAMES 26
WHEN YOU LEAVE HERE,
WILL HEAVEN BE YOUR HOME?
This concept is so relevant and important that I just have to spend a little more time calling attention to it. If you were to die today, would you go to Heaven? When I ask this question, most Christians will say, “I hope so.” This indicates that most of us have the desire and hope in the back of our mind. However, we are so busy with our lives that we do not take time to give it much thought. We spend all of our time preparing for life and doing all the things which keep our lives functioning and satisfying, without really thinking about the very temporary aspect of them, compared to eternity which we come to when we die. We live our lives as if we expect to live forever, but death is no respecter of persons and comes to thousands every day when they did not expect it. Yet we spend very little time preparing for it and for life eternal when this life is over. I am surprised that I am still here at 91. My father died at 69, my younger brother at 64, my wife at 57 and my eldest son at 64. None of these expected death so soon. It makes me humbly talk to the Father every day and ask for guidance to make the day meaningful to Him. His presence is the only thing that is important now, for it is all the hope any of us has.
James is obviously so conscious of this and urges us to humility, which is recognition that we are nothing except what God has made us and what He has allowed us to be and do. James also emphasizes that humility causes us to treat our fellowman with care and concern rather than judgement and disdain.
In a final strong statement on this point, James warns us not to make plans for our lives that depend on our own abilities and the things we think we can do. First of all, no one knows that they will have tomorrow, for we not only face death every day, but we do not know whether God will choose to end it all at any moment. Secondly,
depending on our own selves to accomplish anything is placing the responsibility for our lives, and its successes, on ourselves, instead of the grace and gifts of God. Nothing is possible that He does not give us the ability and power to do. However, few of us ever really pause to think about this, for we are so busy being satisfied with our own accomplishments, and satisfied with our own powers.
The closing point with which James wraps up this powerful warning is that we should not boast of our accomplishments, but say, “If the Lord wills, I will do [thus and so]”. The only good is when we “deny ourselves and follow Him”. So James closes this with the bottom line that makes clear that all good is defined by His will. “He that knoweth to do good [all that God allows and wills for us to do] and doeth it not [but follows his own decisions], to him it is sin”. That is why Paul says, “We ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God” . It is also why he says, “Pray without ceasing”. In other words, be conscious of God’s presence, and let Him guide your life every day, but, realizing that you often fail Him, be constantly humble and penitent, asking for forgiveness along the way. He has promised to forgive, if we ask in faith and accept His Son as our Lord.