15 The Sins of Presumption, Pretentiousness and Perverseness

James 4v13-17

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”– 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. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (ESV)

  1. The Sin of Presumption
    We see the presumption in our human intensions that are different to that of God, when we do not consult God regarding our future plans. Before planning, determine how it will affect those around you, but more importantly what God’s Word says about your actions. We must see ourselves as the mortals that we are. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. Our human intentions often rest on great ignorance and great insignificance.

  2. The Sanctuary of Providence
    Instead, James points us to the sanctuary of God’s providence on how we should plan, saying ‘If the Lord wills’ – Deo Volente (DV). The providence of God is wonderful (cf Psalm 55v22). Most of my pastoral ministry is to help people get free from shame for the past and fear of the future, which is how you squander your present – how you lose the only opportunity you have to do anything with your life. Flee to God’s sanctuary (Mat. 6v25-26, Rom. 8v28, Prov. 3v5-6). Our help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth!

  3. The Sin of Pretentiousness
    We fall into the sin of pretension after committing the sin of presumption. James describes the expression of it (you boast in your arrogance) and the evil of it (pride goes before destruction). Pretentiousness refers to an exaggerated display of importance, talents, beauty and knowledge in an attempt to impress others and project superiority – intellectual, artistic, fashion and music.

  4. The Sin of Perverseness
    Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. Perverseness is to pervert justice. Of first importance, we must perform the first two Commandments. Justice (righteousness) is to give to God and your fellow human beings what is their due, namely to love them. We commit the sin of perverseness when we don’t do what is right to God and our fellow human beings.

You still have to plan and be good stewards of your time, treasures, talents and ties (relationships) with what you know and are, but realize that you are a mist that will soon disappear. Flee to the sanctuary of Providence – let God be God and love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbour as you love yourself.