Your Life is a Vapor

Text: James 4:13-17

Recent events have reminded us of the uncertainty of life (the Boston Marathon bombing and the Texas fertilizer plant explosion). We get similar reminders all the time. James warns us that if we do not have the proper understanding and attitude about the uncertainty of life, then we jeopardize our souls. So we should seriously consider what he teaches on the subject.

The Affairs of Life

  • James addresses those who are engaged in the normal affairs of life (v. 13) – plans for engaging in business & making a living; James does not condemn this
  • If we are able, then we are to work to provide for ourselves & our families (2 Thessalonians 3:7-10; 1 Timothy 5:8) – the fact that our lives could end at any time does not change our responsibility
  • There is nothing wrong with engaging in business & making a profit – money is not evil, but the love of money is (1 Timothy 6:10, 17)
  • Material wealth is a blessing from God (1 Timothy 6:17) – it is good, especially since it offers us the ability to do good for others (1 Timothy 6:18; Ephesians 4:28)
  • But we need to make sure our priorities are in order (Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:16-21)

The Uncertainty of the Future

  • We cannot know what the future holds – many Bible examples to remind us of this fact (Job 1:13-19; Luke 12:19-20; 13:4-5; Matthew 24:36-39); many modern examples that we could also cite (from news stories & personal experience)
  • It is arrogant to act as though future events will have no impact upon us (v. 16)
  • This also reminds us of the insignificance of man in the grand scheme of things (Ps. 8:3-4) – our lives are temporary & will quickly vanish away (v. 14)
  • What we accomplish here will be forgotten (Ecclesiastes 1:11; 2:16) – besides this, in the end, everything of this world will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10)

Our Need to Acknowledge God

  • It is perfectly acceptable to make plans for the future – but we must do so with God in mind (“If the Lord wills…” v. 15)
  • We must acknowledge that God is the giver of life (Acts 17:24-25, 28) – He has appointed that men will die (Hebrews 9:27)
  • We must acknowledge that Christ could return at any time (Matthew 24:36; 2 Peter 3:10) – so be ready (2 Peter 3:11, 14)
  • We must acknowledge the reality that we will be judged by God after this life (Hebrews 9:27) – judgment will be based upon our deeds (2 Corinthians 5:10)
  • We must acknowledge the fact that we have a responsibility to obey God & keep ourselves free from sin (v. 17; 1 Peter 2:11-12) – remember some of what James said earlier in his epistle (1:21-22; 2:17; 4:4; 4:11-12)


  • Life is uncertain – we are just a vapor that is here temporarily & then is quickly gone
  • We must be sure we are doing what God expects of us so that we can be rewarded after this life

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