“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.” – James 4: 13-15
The phrase “If the Lord wills”, or ‘God Willing’ as it often used today, is one that has a strange but evidently true fact about it: Those who say it most don’t know why they say it, it’s nothing more than a superstitious habit for them. And those who know the real meaning and power behind this phrase, very rarely use it at all.
This is not a phase that is to be bounded around carelessly or with out real thought and meaning, equally it is not a phrase that should be avoided, as for every Christian this should be our first thought before we create any plans at all.
There are at last four reasons why this phrase should be used by every Christian, in our everyday speech:
Firstly it simply gives glory to God. It is a plain and simple statement that conveys the magnificent doctrines of God’s sovereignty and God’s Will. There have been many books written, and sermons delivered that look at these Doctrines. But the Westminster Confession of Faith describes it well in a concise way:(talking about God)
“…He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleases. In His sight all things are open and manifest, His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.”
– WCoF Chapter 2
So in all ways, and in all things God is sovereign, he is King. By stating that any action or plan that we make relies solely on the will of God then we are giving him all the Glory for whatever may happen in our life.
Secondly it is beneficial for us, and it is significantly helpful in two main ways:
Firstly, as James Points out, it helps to remind us of our real standing in the bigger picture of things. No matter who we are, or what great feats we may have achieved James reminds us that our whole life, all that we are, is nothing more than a mist that comes and goes in a matter of minutes or hours.
James is not reminding of this in order to grind us into sadness but instead its a call to humility, to give all our plans and decisions over to the God who is eternal, who “sees the end from the beginning”-Isaiah 46:10
If we commit all our plans over to the God that saved us and that loves us , then surely his will and his plans will be far superior to ours(Isaiah 55:9).
Secondly, if we get into the practice of meaningfully using the phrase in our daily life, when we then make a plan or decision that we Know fine well would not be Gods will, it will cause us to stop and think about what we are planning to do.
Thirdly, it is a great witness to those who are not Christians. Very often when Christians use Biblical words or phrases they are accused of making it hard for the non-Christian to follow along. Whether this is true or not, the simple phrase of ‘God willing’ causes no confusion.
It is a clear statement of where your beliefs lie, and whoever you are speaking to will pick it up. It may not seem like a form of witnessing, but it is, like we said before by saying it you are giving the plan over to God.
It also provides a witness as it brings God into the conversation, by using it in everyday talk it brings God into even the most small conversations with the postie, teachers, parents or whoever else you find yourself talking to.
If the the phrase “God willing” is used in an honest way, if you are genuinely giving the idea or plan over to God, Then you are declaring and affirming his power, reminding yourself of your standing and of Gods love and thirdly it provides a form of witness for those who you say it to.