This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

Your Questions, Our Answers

James 4:14 says, “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow.” Since we do not know what will happen tomorrow or even in the next moment, is it biblical for us to plan or prepare for the future?

The Scriptures never cease to amaze me! James’s observation that we do not know what life will be like tomorrow strips us of pride about any claims we might make of being the captain of our own future. Still, the Bible does not teach that planning and preparing for the future is wrong. Rather, it is wise (Prov. 6:6–11; 10:5)!

In James 4, the author is speaking specifically to some people in the church who had planned a business trip. They focused on their plans for the future: “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money” (v. 13). The problem was not the planning itself nor their desire to go into an honorable business to make a profit, but rather imagining that their future was within their control.

Notice what James says in verse 14: “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” We may think we know what will happen the next day, but in reality, we don’t. We are wrong when we plan for the future without taking God’s will into consideration. Instead, we have to follow God’s guidance and His calling for our lives. God may call some of us

to be business people. A business owner not only earns an income but also provides people with jobs, stimulates the economy, and most importantly, gives to the Lord’s work.

But God also calls every believer to be a full-time minister of the gospel. God may be calling some of you to go into business—and to model Christlike character in the work world.

Does the inner working of the Father in us eliminate our responsibility to participate in Christ being at home in our hearts?

No. God’s work within us does not eliminate our responsibility to trust the Lord. Jesus is at home in our hearts through faith (Eph. 3:17). And when we come to faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are to continue to live our lives by placing our trust in Him.

We should not put our trust in our feelings nor in our internal impressions, but only in Jesus, based on His Word. Faith that takes the Lord at His Word unlocks the door of our hearts and opens it wide for Christ to make His home in us.

If Christ already dwells in believers by His Spirit, why does Paul pray for strength for us so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith (Eph. 3:16–17)?

When we trust Christ as our Lord and Savior, He takes up residence in us by His Spirit. He indwells every true follower of Christ. In fact, if the Spirit of God does not indwell a person, that person is not in relationship with God (Rom. 8:9). But as you noted, if Christ is already in us, why does Paul pray for Christ to dwell in our hearts? The answer is found in the meaning of dwell in this context.

Ephesians 3:17 uses the word dwell to convey the idea of being at home. It is not the permanent indwelling of Christ in us that is under discussion here, but the idea of the Lord Jesus being at home in our hearts. We may live in a house permanently and still not feel at home. Sometimes we may have

guests over to our houses, and we say to them, “Make yourself at home!” The Lord Jesus does not want merely to indwell us; He wants to be at home in our hearts! Jesus wants to be at the very center of our innermost world, at the center of our being, our will, our emotions, and our thinking!

Why does James use a vapor or mist metaphor for human life (James 4:14)?

In order to warn us about the danger of planning for our future without regard for God’s will, James uses the metaphor of mist as a reminder of life’s brevity. If you are standing outside on a cold day, you are able to see your breath. Have you ever noticed how quickly the mist of your breath vanishes? James says that brief appearance of our breath is an image of human life—short, ephemeral, quickly appearing, and quickly vanishing.

Compared with eternity, human life is incredibly short. Therefore, we are arrogant and sinful when we make plans for the future of our very short lives without considering the Lord and His will for us.

BY Dr. Winfred O. Neely

Dr. Winfred Neely is currently working towards his third degree in at the University of Bristol, England. An ordained minister and full-time professor of pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute, Winfred has served churches across the City of Chicago, the near west subburbs, and Senegal, West Africa. He and his wife Stephne have been married for forty years and have four adult children and nine grandchildren. 

Find Monthly Issue Content by Date