Deo Volente

Not that I’m actively looking for new latin phrases to add to my vocabulary, but I found this particular phrase–Deo Volente–intriguing. In the early 1900’s it was common for the English to end their personal letters with Deo Volente or D.V. It means God willing, and it’s thought that the phrase was pulled from James 4:13-15.

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The James passage is what I want to focus on for this post, as it contains an important message for beginning a new year. James uses an illustration that’s timeless. A businessman plans a new venture to a city, to expand his business and make a profit. Perhaps it was a new line of robes or designer sandals, I don’t know. Maybe his marketing team had scoped out a particular town that held a certain demographic or the latest fashion trend. Anyway you looked at it, it sounded like a sure thing.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a business person planning to increase his or her profits. We should all be making future plans for career progression, retirement, a family vacation, an aging car, or saving for our kid’s college education. The problem that James raises is that the businessman took the attitude of living his life without God’s input and guidance. This scripture passage describes the businessman’s presumption of success as arrogant boasting.

Instead, James admonishes us to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

I find myself guilty of making my own plans and then asking God to bless them, like I know better than God how to plan my life. I often take such a pragmatic approach to things. But my life is just a vapor—here today and gone tomorrow. I used to think I knew what success meant. I saw it as a future outcome—more money, more possesions, a better position in my job, a higher social status, etc.

Now, though, I see success as more of an attitude or way of thinking:

  • Is my life pleasing to God?
  • Do I have less fear and more peace in my life?
  • Am I doing the things I know I should be doing?
  • Am I content with the things God has given me?
  • Do I love the people God has placed in my life?
  • Am I laying up eternal treasure in Heaven?

  • Listening to a sermon this past week, I learned another take on success and failure. The preacher said, “failure is being successful in the wrong thing.” Again, this goes back to how we define success. People can be perceived as being very successful, but some success may not have any eternal significance. And it may not be accompanied with the peace that passes understanding.

    Anyway, as you plan your 2015, I encourage you to reflect on the James 4:13-15 passage. I hope you find more of God’s peace, and that He will lead you to different ways of viewing success.

    May this post have the effect God intends for it to have. D.V.

    What is God teaching you about success? Feel free to comment in the field below.

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    This entry was posted in Spiritual Journey and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

    2 Responses to Deo Volente

    1. Ron Purvis says:

      Excellent article! Reminds me also of a phrase we use in Spanish: The will of God or La voluntad de Dios.

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