“But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today’ … Today, if you will hear his voice …” (Hebrews 3:13,15).
I am currently in the process of purchasing tickets and confirming schedules for yet another trip to South Asia. Dates must be fixed, times of departure and arrival determined, and arrangements made. This is done several weeks or even months in advance of the beginning of the trip. It is an essential part of the planning, yet I cannot help but remember James’ admonition against arrogant assumption of the future.
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that'” (James 4:13-15).
James does not condemn planning. Rather, he reminds us to remember that we do not control the future, and we must always submit to the one who does. As we recognize this truth, however, we also realize that we do have control (at least in some senses) of one particular period of time ?- the present. Whatever we do is always done now -? today. The past cannot be revisited or altered. The future cannot be guaranteed. Only the present is ours to use.
The Hebrew writer calls upon us to encourage and teach others today (Hebrews 3:13). The Psalmist commands us to hear God and obey his word today (Psalm 95:7). Paul says, “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
There is a critical difference between planning for the future and putting things off for another “more convenient” time (cf Acts 24:25). There is also a great difference between providing for the future and assuming it will surely come. As Christians, and as wise people, we must choose the first of each alternative and avoid the second. Act today, before all opportunity ceases. Submit to God and pray to him for tomorrow.

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