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Read Introduction to James


“…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.”


For what is your life?

The word “what” means of what quality. What is the nature of your life? The idea here is that the nature of our lives has a transitory factor about them. We do not live on this earth for very long. 

It is even a vapor

Our life is like a mist, smoky vapor, hot steamy vapor trail. A vapor appears for a short time and then disappears. The idea is that our life is temporary. Our time on this earth flees from us quickly. Our life is transitory because there are so many contingencies that might happen to us, much over which we have little control. None of us can guarantee the future. We have no assurance that we will grow old. 

that appears for a little time

God’s providence injects itself into our plans. We appear on the scene for a short time with a great deal of fanfare, and then we disappear off the face of the earth. 

and then vanishes away

The plans of man are never absolute. God intervenes in the plans of business. He introduces dissonance into those plans.   No businessman can guarantee his future. Just look at the stock market. It is a presumption if we think otherwise. 

All human life is transitory. The only difference is that we do not know the termination point. 

Ps 90:10, 12, “The days of our lives are seventy years;

            And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,

            Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;

            For it is soon cut off, and we fly away

12 So teach us to number our days,

That we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Ps 102:11, “My days are like a shadow that lengthens,

And I wither away like grass.”

Life is life a fleeting wisp of smoke from a fire. If our life is so transitory, it is foolish to live our lives without giving attention to God’s will. 

Job 7:6-7, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,

And are spent without hope.

7 Oh, remember that my life is a breath!

My eye will never again see good.”

Job 14:1, “Man who is born of woman

            Is of few days and full of trouble.”


Spiritual Christians look for the concurrence of God’s providence when making plans for the future.


We do not “do it my way” because God is in charge of providentially. The sovereign God of the universe controls every event and each situation. He providentially concurs with everything that comes into our lives. 

Ps 37:3-4, “Trust in the Lord, and do good;

Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

4 Delight yourself also in the Lord,

And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

Once we understand that God gives us but a brief moment in the scheme of things here on earth, we should live our lives as unto the Lord. Why waste time with our lives if they are so short? We ought to focus and put a priority on the things of greatest value. The true purpose of God is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. 

Life is independent of circumstance. We might be wealthy but miserable, and we might be poor but blessed. The purpose of life transcends circumstance. Paul and Silas sang while in prison (Acts 16). 

There is glamour in financial wealth, but it does not continue in that status for long. It will vanish away. Our generation places great value and shines on personal wealth, but it becomes dull in old age. “What was the purpose of the accumulation of money all my life?” The point – there is great prosperity here but a pauper there. There is great folly in putting too much value on temporal values.