“Lord Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise”

This is one saying that I’m sure we all grew up using or at least hearing. Perhaps we still do. The first part of the phrase comes from James 4.15, but I wonder if we miss James’ point when we use this statement.

As we read the letter of James, we notice that his main concern is with the way his audience was looking up to the rich and looking down upon the poor. Moreover, the rich were not helping those who were truly in need. They were making friends with the world rather than God. So, James tells them:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. (Js. 4.13-17)

It’s that last verse (and moving on into chapter 5) that gives us the key to understanding the phrase, “If the Lord wills.” The rich that James is addressing are arrogant in thinking that they will be able to build bigger barns (Luke 12.16-21) without thinking of their poor brethren and the needs that they have. He goes on in 5.4 to point out a specific error – They weren’t paying what they owed. They were cheating their laborers. They knew what was right, but they weren’t doing it.

James’ point is not, “If are plans fail, it was not what God wanted.” His point is that we need to do what is right no matter our station in life. When we make our plans, we need to make sure it is furthering the Lord’s kingdom, even if it’s simply living our lives the way He wants us to (Matthew 5.16). In that light, we need to make sure “...the devil don’t interfere” (James 4.7-8)

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