Arrogance and Humility

Passage for Today

James 4:13-17

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.


  1. What does James caution his readers about?
  2. Why is this a dangerous thing to do?
  3. Spend time in prayer asking God for an attitude of humility.


By Lifeway

This passage is more about the implicit attitude of arrogance than the explicit action. It’s not literally evil to make plans or to do business. Countless Scriptures encourage wisdom in handling finances and in stewarding responsibilities.

The warning here is against the false wisdom, worldly ambition, and self-centered confidence in believing that life revolves around us and that we have everything figured out. The sins in this passage are self-reliance and a lack of submission to the will of our sovereign God. This sin is declaring ourselves to be sovereign. This is the lie of the serpent still tickling our ears.
The first sin resulted from the idea that man and woman had the right to question God. That subtle subversion of God’s good, rightful authority put us on shaky ground, teetering on self-destruction. It’s important to note that in this account of the first temptation, it wasn’t necessarily sensual desire that enticed Eve and then Adam.

Beauty and pleasure are God’s good gifts to us. They’re part of His perfect design as the Creator. We refer to the blessings everyone can enjoy as common graces—natural beauty, sensory pleasure, and good food, for example. Even the person most violently opposed to God’s sovereign rule can enjoy these things to a degree. Christians, however, experience common graces as good gifts from an even greater giver of the gift. The pleasure fuels humble gratitude. In contrast, the pleasure of an arrogant heart terminates with itself as it consumes common graces without gratitude.

The original sin was birthed from a desire to be self-sovereign. It challenged the sufficiency of God’s sovereignty. The lie we all fall for is that we have the ability and the right to determine what we’ll do with our lives without experiencing the consequence of death. The sin of being self-sovereign is taking our lives into our own hands and believing we can be in control.
We want to be like God. We want to choose what’s right or wrong for ourselves. We don’t want to believe that His wisdom should be the standard we live by. He isn’t good enough. We deserve more. We can have something better.  

*  This devotion was found at titled “James: Faith/Works” by Lifeway.

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