In today’s passage, James addresses another problem his reader had – boasting about the future.
Jam. 4:13-14 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: (14) Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
It’s not hard to imagine how James’ audience might fall into this temptation. Many of them were starting over because of the persecution they had experienced. They were trying to figure out how to get back on their feet, so they planned. “We’ll go to this city, we’ll stay there a year, and we’ll do business and get rich.” You have to give them credit for positive thinking. They had hope in spite of difficult circumstances. That’s all good, but you can still get into trouble, even when you’re doing some things right. And being right in some ways doesn’t excuse being wrong in others.
Ye Know Not
One problem with their planning was that they were acting as if they could predict and control the future. That’s not the nature of life in this world. Our life is like the morning mist that vanishes under the rising sun. The Bible makes it clear that life is brief and uncertain:
Psa. 39:4-5 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. (5) Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.
Psa. 144:3-4 LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! (4) Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.
1Pe. 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
These folks were either ignorant of that fact, or thought they weren’t bound by it. Pride was probably behind their problem. They were putting too much faith in their plans. They didn’t know what was going to happen tomorrow, much less next year.
How Are You Doing?
- Are you planning as if you can control the future?
- Are you aware of how brief and uncertain life is?
Read James 4:15-17. Does the Lord factor into you plans for the future?