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James 4:16

ESV As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
NIV As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
NASB But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
CSB But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
NLT Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.
KJV But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

What does James 4:16 mean?

James began this section with what sounds to our ears like a pretty innocuous statement. In verse 13, he pictured a businessman saying, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit." What could be wrong with that? The context of this statement, however, is James's discussion of worldly wisdom. Specifically, James is condemning the attitude which ignores God and focuses on selfish ambition. This is an attitude which leads us to abuse others.

This verse supports that James has in mind a particular attitude behind the words of verses 13 and 14. In that context—bragging about one's plans devoid of God's influence—such a statement reveals arrogance and self-reliance. It is foolish for creatures as short-lived and near-sighted as we are to assert with confidence that we will accomplish our plans to gather up good for ourselves. We can't predict the future and we could very well die by tomorrow.

The good news for those of us who are in Christ is that God is for us. In love, He directs the course of our lives. Every good that has ever come our way is from Him (James 1:17), and He has promised to provide all we need now and great abundance with Him for eternity. To declare our independence in the face of that is more than just foolish, James now writes. It is evil and arrogant boasting.

What does God want from us, instead? First, to make plans with the intent of obeying the will of God in the first place. Then, to speak of any human plans with the awareness that God may well interfere with them if they are not His will (James 3:15). He wants us to trust Him, to live every moment in dependence on Him.
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