James 4:13 – “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
Where are our hearts truly? With God or the things of the world?
Luke 12:34 – “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.“
Puritan Thomas Manton in his excellent work “A Practical Commentary, or an Exposition with Notes, on the Epistle of James” discusses the life of carnal persons and the things important to them.
How do we compare?
You can listen to all of verse 13 here:
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The entire book is available here: https://ia800904.us.archive.org/2/items/apracticalcomme01mantgoog/apracticalcomme01mantgoog.pdf#page=375, and this section starts on PDF page 375 (in the print, page 356), or you can get it in other formats here…
…or you can listen to the entire book on this page:
Thomas Manton – James Commentary
From Thomas Manton:
Verse 13. – Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
Ye that say, “To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, etc.” By an imitation he recites the speeches or thoughts of the Jewish factors or merchants: Now we will go to Alexandria, or to Damascus, or to Antioch, which were the places of their usual traffic [for business]. Observe hence,
Obs 1. That carnal hearts are all for carnal projects. Thoughts are the purest offspring of the soul, and do discover the temper of it. Men are according to their devices; see Isa. xxxii. 6, 7: “Liberal men devise liberal things.” Carnal men are projecting how to spend their days and months in buying and selling, and getting gain. The fool in the Gospel is thinking of enlarging his barns, and plucking down his houses, and building greater (Luke xi. 17, 18): this engrosses all his thoughts.
One apostle describes such men thus, “Minding earthly things” (Phil. iii. 19). Another thus, “Having a heart exercised with covetous practices” (2 Pet. ii. 14); that is, with earnest contrivances how to promote their gain and earthly aims.
A gracious heart is for gracious projects, how they shall be more thankful (Psa. cxvi. 12), how more holy, more useful for God, more fruitful in every good work; “what they shall do to inherit eternal life.” Oh! consider, this is the better care, that more suits with the end [purpose] of our creation and the nature of our spirits. We were sent into the world, not to grow great and pompous, but to enrich our souls with spiritual excellencies, etc.
Obs 2. Again you may observe, that carnal men send out their thoughts to forestall and fore-enjoy their contentments ere [before] they obtain them. [ie. looking forward to expected events and enjoyments with excitement] It is usual with men to feed themselves with the pleasure of their hopes. Sisera’s mother’s ladies looked through the lattice, pleasing themselves in the thought of a triumphant return (Judg. v.).
Thoughts are the spies and messengers of the soul; hope sends them out after the thing expected, and love after the thing beloved. When a thing is strongly expected, the thoughts are wont [often] to spend themselves in creating images and suppositions of the happiness of enjoyment. If a poor man were adopted into the succession of a crown, he would please himself in the supposition of the future honour and pleasure of the kingly state. Godly men, that are called to be co-heirs with Christ, are wont [often] to pre-occupy the bliss of their future estate, and so do in a manner feel what they do but expect.
So also do carnal men charm their souls with whispers of vanity, and feed themselves with the pleasant anticipation of that carnal delight which they look for: as young heirs spend upon their hopes, and riot away their estate ere [before] they possess it.
Well then, look to it; it is a sure note of fleshliness, when the world runs so often in your thoughts, and you are always deflowering [corrupting] carnal contentments [in this case I believe lawful ones] by these anticipations of lust [generally, any corrupt desire in the heart] and sin; and you have nothing to live upon, or to entertain your spirit withal, but these suppositions of gain and pomp, and the reversion [future possession] of some outward enjoyment.
Obs 3. Again, you may observe their confidence of future events. “We will go, and continue there a year,” etc. Note from that, that carnal affections are usually accompanied with, certainly much encouraged by, carnal confidence. They are doubly confident: of the success of their endeavours. “We will get gain”; of the continuance of their lives, “We will continue there a year.” Lust [corrupt desires] cannot be nourished without a presumption of success.
When men multiply endeavours, they liittle think of God, or of the changes of providence. [If they were to], It is [or would be] enough to undo [sadly, to them, take away from them their] lust [corrupt desire] to suppose [that] a disappointment [might happen].
Besides, when there is such a presence of means [wealth, prosperity], we ascribe little to the highest cause [God and His providence, how He causes things to happen in our lives]. First the world steals away our affections, and then it intercepts our trust: there is not only adultery in it (James iv. 4), but idolatry (Eph. v. 5). It is not only our darling, but our god; and that is the reason why worldly men are always represented as men of a secure presumption; as, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke xii 9). “I shall die in my nest, and multiply my days as the sand” (Job xxix. 18). So in that apocryphal passage, “I have found rest, and will eat continually of my goods, and yet he knoweth not what time shall come upon him” (Ecclus. xi. 19). They think now they have enough to secure them against all chances [happenstances].
Well then, look to your confidence and trust: when you are getting an estate, is your expectation founded in faith, or lust [corrupt desire]? When you have gotten an estate, where lies the assurance of your contentment, in the promises or your outward welfare?
Obs 4. Again, from that to-day or to-morrow, and we will tarry there a year. Carnal men are not only confident of present, but future welfare; which argues a heart stupidly [insensibly, like in a stupor] secure, and utterly insensible of the changes of Providence: “To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundantly” (Isa. Ivi. 12): “Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever” (Psa. xlix. 11).
Men love to enjoy their carnal comforts without interruption, thought of death, or change. Every day is as a new life, and brings sufficient care with it; we need not look out for so long time. But worldly men in their cares do not only provide for the morrow, but the next year, in their possessions; do not only please themselves in their present happiness, but will not so much as suppose a change.
May God grant the things of the world be seen as the vain things they are. May our hearts be with spiritual things and all our desires be toward Christ Jesus, being in union with Him, loving Him, adoring Him, and worshipping Him in our hearts, minds, words and actions!
1 John 2:15 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Psalm 27:4 – “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.“