“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…”
buy and sell,
We get the English word “emporium” from the Greek word for “buy.” We can also translate this word merchant. Jewish merchants traveled throughout the Roman Empire in the Hellenistic period (times of the New Testament). James does not condemn free enterprise here, but the entrepreneur who does business without dependence on God.
The sin here is not making a profit in business but making it the ultimate purpose for business. Every businessperson should design their business to glorify God and win people to Christ. If profit is our vital passion, then we violate God’s purpose for creation.
Presumption on the providence of God is to play God.
There is a proclivity in man to play God. We think we can operate independently from Him and lean solely on ourselves, “I am in control of my destiny.” We overrate our limitations. Our pride does not acknowledge that we cannot do it our way.
We need to come to the point where we depend on God in everything. We should acknowledge God’s providence in everything we do. Believers in tune with God always ask direction and go-ahead from Him. God takes an interest in all that we plan and do. He wants a place in our planning.
“Many people aspire to everything, and it becomes all-consuming.” They always go forward but never arrive anywhere. This is because they leave the perpendicular out of their business. Shrewd business cannot figure every contingency. This is obvious in the stock market.
Note the mistakes of the business people in this passage:
Time mistake – takes the time God gives him and distorts it into selfish ends.
Geographical mistake – goes where he can make money rather than grow in his faith; his orientation is toward business enterprise rather than personal growth.
Planning mistake – he has no regard for God’s providence.
Operational mistake – he becomes so occupied with making money that he distorts his soul and fails to grow in grace.
Motivational mistake – his objective is wealth rather than growth in grace