It seems sacrilegious to use the phrase “If the Lord wills” in connection with everyday matters, such as “I am going shopping, if the Lord wills,” or to make plans and say “If the Lord wills.” It makes it sound like we are puppets of God. What do you think?
It is never proper to secularize any phrase of Scripture. Any and every sacred expression we use must be kept sacred. However, for the dedicated Christian, all of life is sacred; there is no separating secular and sacred. All our time, all our activities are part of our service to God, even the most ordinary.
The Bible writers felt themselves continually within the care and keeping of God, even in secular matters. David wrote, “My times are in Your hand: deliver me from the hand of my enemies” (Ps. 31:15). Again he said, speaking of his common everyday blessings, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance” (Ps. 16:6).
Again they spoke of every life and every breath of life as derived from God. ldquo;In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10). Job wrote, “The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life…I am as your spokesman before God: I am also formed out of the clay” (Job 33:4-6).
If we are dependent upon God for every breath of life—and we know that we are—is it too much to consider Him when planning our daily affairs?
James spoke directly about asking the Lord’s permission, so to speak, in the daily concourse of life. ldquo;Go to now,” he wrote addressing the business-minded, and he condemned those who would say, ldquo;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” (James 4:13-14).
In other words, he was saying, Life is too short and uncertain to say what “we will” do. Then he suggested the proper alternative: “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that’” (v. 15). When we preface every activity with “If the Lord will, we shall live and do” such and such, we are acknowledging our total dependence upon God for breath and all our powers of life, which is the proper attitude for any and every child of God.
Should we wonder if we are misapplying these words of James, we have this statement from the apostle Paul, who in taking leave of the Ephesian brethren stated these plans for his return: “I will return again to you, God willing” (Acts 18:21). Again, writing to the Corinthians, he expressed his desire to come to see them shortly, adding, “If the Lord wills” (1 Cor. 4:19).
We have also this statement in the book of Hebrews, concerning our spiritual duty of “going onto perfection”: “And this will we do, if God permits” (Heb. 6:3).
In fact, we should not engage in any activity which we cannot make dependent upon the favorable will of God. Following our own will, or the will of others will not get us very far, certainly it will not get us any further down the path to perfection.
On God we depend for every breath, every move, every moment of life. Should we hesitate to make our activities subject to His will, we are certainly not heeding the advice of Prov. 3:6: “In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will direct your paths.”