Life is a Vapor, James 4:13-17

“Come now, you who say, ‘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.

As we have gone along in this study it has become clear that the weak Christian and the double-minded Christian are being addressed primarily.

However we must never forget that the warfare against our souls is constant, and whether we are a strong Christian, or fall into the above categories, the words in this book are for all.

It is true also that many of us overconfidently consider ourselves to be strong Christians when we are not. The trials which come into our lives will in time teach us the truth of the matter.

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.’ But he [Peter] spoke more vehemently, ‘If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And they all said likewise.” Mark 14:30-31.

All of us often forget that it is God who establishes a plan, so the best beginning is to have the attitude of Jeremiah.

“O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O Lord, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing.” Jeremiah 10:23-24.

This was Jeremiah’s admission that man cannot know what the next moment can bring, so he asks God to keep him on the straight path, lest he stray and come under condemnation.

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1.

Jeremiah’s statement is echoed in Proverbs.

“A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?” Proverbs 20:24.

In order to walk in the way of blessing or safety, it is necessary to commit your way to the Lord.

“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5.

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel – that will stand.” Proverbs 19:20-21.

The Lord’s counsel may come from different sources, godly knowledgeable Christians, Scripture – Proverbs for instance, a check in your own heart as to whether something is wrong or right, or perhaps what you have read here so far has given you your answer.

Remember this, no matter what your answer; if it goes against any clearly stated principle in the Bible, God will not honor it.

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9.

Too many folks forget that life is indeed a vapor, a puff of smoke that appears and then fades to nothingness. I often think of a puff of cigarette smoke when I consider these verses.

In the approximately six thousand years man has lived on this planet, perhaps hundreds of generations have come and gone, and a lifetime of seventy years is but a wisp compared to a thousand.

Go to the graveyards and be aware that every grave you step over represents a life lived, how did they live it?

These people under your feet were very real and all expected to live forever.

In Galveston Texas, the graveyard there, as in many other places, has an eerie atmosphere with crypts, some with doors that have gaps in them because of age; creepy Halloween feeling places, yet as you look at the dates and inscriptions on the tombstones you can see human history play out in front of you. Life is short, no matter how long you live.

Keep your life, value it, do not throw it away on drugs or violent living; take your medication, eat right, think on the beautiful things in life.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8.

Do not be afraid to live, but do not commit suicide, nor live recklessly rather give your life to Christ and allow Him to make it something that you never thought possible.

“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” II Timothy 1:12.

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…” Philippians 1:6.

“Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” James 4:15.

There are two conditions here, “If the Lord wills” and “we shall live and do this or that”.

For the Christian everything should begin with Lord willing or “If the Lord wills”, for everything is dependent on God’s will in a matter, because it is going to be done whether a person is a Christian or not. Paul often said this.

“…making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.” Romans 1:10.

“But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills…” I Corinthians 4:19.

Even the non-Jew or Christian have used these words.

Socrates is quoted as saying, “But I will do this and come to you tomorrow, if God will”.

And, at least until the mid-eighteen hundreds the Turks would promise nothing, either to themselves or others without the words, “In Shallah”, if God will.

Do not be deceived, the world is in rebellion and chaos, but God is allowing these things to fulfill His own purpose. His will is ultimately going to be done, better to be in it, rather than out.

If God’s will is determined, it is then more likely that we shall live to do it. What we do, where we go, and how we do it, is another reason to seek His guidance in our venture.

“But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:16-17.

Referring back to verse 13, the Lord calls this arrogant boasting.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit…’” James 4:13.

While the worldly wise make these boasts because they are very good at what they do.

Yet, as we have seen, no one knows what tomorrow will bring, and the bottom can drop out of the market with disastrous results.

Often as not, some of this boasting is from stupidity; if you have ever watched any of the “Flip this House” shows, you may have seen more than one example.

Two young men had some money to invest, so they decided to buy a home and renovate it. Having bought the house they decided to add a room to gain even more resale value. Since this flip was being televised, the producers sent over a real estate expert to advise these men.

The woman looked the place over and recommended that they just paint and fix it up, perhaps updating the kitchen and bathroom a little, nothing more. With this facelift, she said the house would quickly turn over with a tidy profit; she also said that the extra room would be more work than needed and strongly advised against it.

But the novices knew best and commenced to add the room.

It was found that the ground would not support the new foundation and needed to be dug up to accommodate the new room. However, once dug up, it was found that the ground was weak due to a water runoff problem which would involve a great deal more ground work to fix.

The bottom line is that a lot of money was sunk into that hole, and the remodel fell way behind schedule, which means that they were making payments on an unoccupied home. These payments came out of their profit and a very harsh lesson was learned, I hope.

Experts, especially godly experts are there for a reason and it does not pay not to at least listen to them. If you are unsatisfied, find another expert, you may even want to consult yet another.

But do not keep doing it until someone agrees with you, all this does is waste yours and the expert’s time when you are just going to do what you want anyway!

“Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” Proverbs 15:22.

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17.

One who boasts in their arrogance will look at these verses and agree that they are the right thing to do. Yet to agree with God and then to go out on their own anyway, is sin.

However, this verse does not, just apply to the ones who do not seek the will of God, it also applies, “to him who knows to do good and does not do it”.

We all sin if we ignore the right thing to do, whether it is returning incorrect change, returning the neighbors tools in good shape, or standing up for your enemy when they are being accused of something you know to be false.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:22-26.

“What is desired in a man is kindness [lovingkindness]…” Proverbs 19:22a.

Life is a Vapor, James 4:13-17 taken from posted on 10-4-11, updated on 11-14-20.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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