James reminds us that life is a vapor. But, all throughout the New Testament God communicates the hallmark of Christian living is endurance. Do these two themes mix? How do we live “a vapor” and endure at the same time?
Running in cold weather gives a simple picture of this. Watching breath after breath appear and then disappear within a second or two is rather disturbing with James 4 on the mind. The biblically oriented runner contemplates, “Hm, that vapor is like my life. I wonder how much more is left. Am I still on the exhale stage or just about to dis – ?” – enter speeding Mack truck – “Whoa, that was not cool!!!”
At the same time, he keeps running. Enduring.
Yes, our life is a vapor. Soon none of us will be alive. Think about. No one is around from the mid-1800s. Some say there are 30 people alive who were born in the late 1800s. Thirty out of 7 billion. People will be saying the same thing about us in 2100. Most of us will be gone. Life is a vapor.
Because life is a vapor, Christians are called to endure.
Only a few years remain to do God’s will. A few years to make a difference for eternity. And so many things scream for our attention and try to distract us from doing just that. That is why both truths from the New Testament are viable. Life is short, so endure in living it for the right priorities.
The very context of James’ comments regarding life as “a mist [vapor]” involves a reminder about priorities. He addressed those making plans without regard for what the Lord might have in store. Following his statement that “you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14, ESV), he provides instruction to plan, not in boastful arrogance, but in trusting surrender to the Lord.
Enduring in this way during our vaporous life does not sound easy, and it is not. But, there is a great reward at the end: “If we endure, we will also reign with him.” (2 Timothy 2:12)
Treat life like a vapor and endure!