Summary: James applies the need for humility to our mindset about our lives and our plans. As he discusses the fact that our life is just a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes, we learn some sins to avoid and some things to do.
A. One day a doctor called one of his patients into his office to deliver some very important news.
1. “I have received the results of your tests and I have some bad news and some good news.”
2. The patient was quiet for a moment, sensing the gravity of the announcement, “Let me have the good news first, Doc,” said the patient.
3. The doctor took a deep breath and said, “The good news is: you have 24 hours to live!”
4. “Oh my goodness,” shouted the patient, “If that’s the good news what could the bad news possibly be?”
5. The doctor replied, “The bad news is: I was supposed to tell you the good news yesterday.”
B. Very few of us live as if there is no tomorrow.
1. Most of us live as if there will be many more tomorrows.
2. Like the popular musical song from Annie – “The sun will come out, Tomorrow…Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya’ tomorrow; you’re only a day away.”
3. And don’t get me wrong, in some respects living as if there will be many tomorrows is good, but in other respects it can be very bad.
4. If we look forward to tomorrow with hope, then that is a fine perspective.
5. But if we look forward to tomorrow with a presumptuous spirit, then we are in danger.
C. As you know from our study of the book of James, James speaks very directly and practically about the challenges we face in our everyday lives.
1. As we come to the end of chapter 4, James addresses the arrogance that we sometimes display.
2. After having reminded all of us that we are not the JUDGE, and that we need to be humble before the Lord, James applies that same spirit of humility to our future plans.
3. He begins verse 13 with a parental, authoritarian tone – “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be!” (vs. 13-14a)
4. The truth of the matter is – None of us are in control of the future, nor do we know what will happen in the future.
5. It amazes me how much effort and time we spend trying to predict the future.
a. The weatherman has his 7 or 10 day forecast.
b. The talking heads on TV make their predictions about political elections, and the outcomes of sporting events.
c. The NFL season has not even begun, but you can buy magazines that predict who is going to win the Super Bowl.
d. Then there are the daily horoscopes and the psychic hotlines.
e. We want to know the future so badly, that we will pay big money for a glimpse into the future.
6. But James wants to make it clear to us that we cannot know the future.
7. None of us knows for sure what will happen tomorrow, let alone what will happen tonight.
D. Now, before we get too far, let me make this clarification: The fact that we cannot predict the future, does not negate the need for planning.
1. There is nothing wrong with making plans.
2. Being a good steward of our lives necessitates the making of plans.
3. Jesus advocated planning. He told the person who was getting ready to build a building to sit down and figure the costs to be sure he would have enough to finish the project.
4. Jesus told us to plan for the future by laying up treasure in heaven.
5. So, James is not against planning, but he is warning us to be sure to keep God in our plans.
6. Unfortunately, far too many of us plan our lives without God in mind.
7. James encourages us to be thinking, planning and saying, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (vs. 15)
E. James asks a very important question – “WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?”
1. His answer is: “For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.”
2. Here is a picture of a teapot with steam coming out of it.
a. When we boil water in a teapot the water turns into steam, but the steam doesn’t usually fill the kitchen.
b. Before it even gets a foot or two away from the teapot it disappears.
c. The vapor appears for a few seconds and then vanishes.
3. The other picture that came to mind is a foggy valley.
a. When I was younger and the trees at Camp Hunt were shorter, we used to see amazing displays of fog in the valley of Hubbardsville.