Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1 But now you boast in your presumptions. All such boasting is evil. James 4:16
Boast – Open your day planner. Look at the top of the page for tomorrow. Do you see God’s fingerprint there? If you don’t, then perhaps this word is for you. Both Solomon and James are singing the same song. It’s a song about presumptuous self-sufficiency. What’s interesting is that whether the word in Hebrew or in Greek is something good or bad depends on the context. Only the surrounding attitudes and actions can tell us if the day planner is filled with humility or with pride.
In Hebrew, the word is halal, used both for due praise as well as self-conceit. In Greek, it is kauchaomai, used both for glorifying God and exulting in my own accomplishments. You can’t tell the meaning from the word alone. You need the context.
Exactly the same thing is true when it comes to determining your attitude and actions toward tomorrow. You can plan, purpose, anticipate, strategize and deliberate based entirely on your own designs (you might even ask God to help you accomplish your designs), or you can do all these things with a conscious and deliberate acknowledgment of God’s final authority and sovereignty over all life, including tomorrow’s expectations. From the outside, the difference between these two perspectives may not be obvious at all. In fact, as human beings we are often tempted to support and encourage actions that look like the trademark of a successful person without asking the deeper question: where is God’s hand in all this? It takes the context of a person’s life to determine if the focus on tomorrow is motivated by the Father’s will or by my own. It is even possible to fool myself by rationalizing how much God would be pleased with what I am trying to do.
In the end, the only measure of success is this: is God delighted?
We like to collect symbols of our planning prowess. Here’s an architectural model of that great office building we will have. Here’s a certificate of deposit for the fortune that will one day be mine. Here’s a picture of the vacation home I’ll inherit. A lot of business motivation strategy tells us to focus on a specific goal and then take all the steps needed to achieve it. Depending on the context, all of this is good. But behind all the actions is the tenor of life. Is it one of submission or one of achievement? Is it about compassion or about accumulation?
Today, not tomorrow, take a presumption survey of your plans. Where you see God’s fingerprints, go forward. Where you don’t, stop. Not all tomorrows are worth pursuing.