James 4:13-17 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: 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. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
If we rightly believe our life in a vapour, it might not affect all that much whether we plan to go somewhere, conduct business, and make money (i.e., not knowing about tomorrow, we still might make plans. Cf. Proverbs 6:6-8 Proverbs 31:16). However, if we rightly believe our life in a vapour, it should affect how we think and talk about those plans! A plan is made in the mind or thoughts. The thought-out plan is spoken with the mouth. Have these two things occurred with or without taking the truth about life, the future, and God into account? Very often our tongue will tell (Matthew 15:18). Over a lived-life, the Christian should learn that God is the disposer of life, and the events of life (Luke 12:20; Proverbs 16:33; 19:21).
In verse 13, James refers to what they say. In verse 15, he refers to what they ought to say. In verse 14, he refers to what they do not know, as well as the true condition of life. Verse 15 applies the recognition of this true condition to how we think and act.
- Our knowledge is restricted. “ye know not what shall be on the morrow.”
- Our life is temporal. “It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
- God’s will is sovereign. “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”