James 4:14 (ESV) … “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
The readers to which James writes, are planning out their lives without regard to God in verses 13-17. They would talk about going to ‘such and such a city’, about spending a year or so there and about the various transactions they would conduct while they were there (v. 13). They were talking as if they were in charge of their lives, and they weren’t.
James tells them that they had not factored into the equation the brevity and unpredictability of life. They could talk about one place, that city over there, and, before they could get there, end up in another place—eternity. They could talk about a period of time, this year or next, and, before that period began, find themselves in the realm of the timeless.
How easily we forget what life is like! It is a vapour! It is like the morning mist that lingers only in the early morning hours and vanishes when the sun rises. And when the sun rises, it doesn’t take long for the vapour to vanish!
So James tells his readers to quit acting as if they are in control. That is proud living! He says, ‘Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” ’ (v. 15).
No, he is not suggesting that we actually have to say those exact words every single time we are planning to go somewhere or to transact some business—although it would not be a bad idea to say them frequently! Rather he is talking about always keeping in mind that God is in control, and none of our plans ever supersedes or overrides his plans.
The eternal God has made us for eternity, and to eternity we must go. And the eternity that awaits us is one either of bliss or of woe!
So let us live with God and eternity weighing much on our minds. We constantly have the tendency to make this life the main event and eternity a footnote. Eternity is the main event, and only a fool lives as if this life is all that there is.
Don’t count on your time. It is passing! Don’t count on your possessions. They will soon belong to someone else. Don’t count on your career. It will soon be over. But count on this: eternity is rapidly approaching, and only those who have taken refuge in Jesus Christ can face it.