“But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”
As it is, James’ readers are out of fellowship with God and with each other because of their pride.
The word “boast” means to speak loudly, to vaunt oneself. The idea is to make oneself appear better than others. His bragging is at the expense of others. This businessman thinks that his business success makes him better than other people.
in your arrogance.
The word “arrogance” carries the idea of someone who pretends to have more than he possesses. The Greek word originally came from the idea of a vagabond. Literally, “arrogance” means to wander about. A vagabond moved from place to place, making quack claims. An arrogant person then is a charlatan, a quack. This imposter makes claims about himself that he cannot support. His accomplishments are by deceit. He is not as much as he claims, so he is a successful bum!
The readers of James thought that they could control their own destiny, “I am a self-made man. I know how to do business. I know the future of the markets.” They do not give credit to God for their business ability (4:13). They act as if God stepped down from His sovereign throne and put them in His place. Obviously, they do not do this explicitly but implicitly by their attitudes and actions. Therefore, they brag about their arrogant accomplishments to those around them.
All such boasting is evil
This reasoning is evil because it usurps the place of God, “What relevance does God have in my life? I can get along without Him. I can make my own plans.” This boasting is not only presumptuous, but it is also evil. Our times and our destinies are in God’s hands.
Autonomy from God is evil because it disregards the providence of God. Arrogance does not submit oneself to the sovereign will of God. When we brag about our arrogance, this flies in the face of God more than simple arrogance. It is a double arrogance, pride upon pride, making it “evil” boasting.
When we brag about our accomplishments, it is always at the expense of others.
It is one thing to forget to involve God in business plans, but it is another to act as if God does not exist in making those plans. It is one thing to take God off the throne, and it is another to put self on the throne.
A braggart thinks highly of himself and wants others to think of him the same way. He is self-centered rather than God-centered. He forgets that every capability he has, he has from God.
1 Co 4:6-7, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. 7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”
A braggart loves to talk about himself. He may even boast of humility! All he can talk about is his successes and pretentious plans for the future. He has an apparent decisive confidence in himself. All this grieves the heart of God.