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Question and Answer

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 (B.A., D.Min. Trinity International University; M.A. Wheaton) is currently working towards an advanced research degree in Old Testament at the University of Bristol, England. He is an ordained minister of the Gospel and a full-time professor of hermeneutics, homiletics, and pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Prior to joining the faculty at Moody, Winfred served churches in the City of Chicago and is currently interim pastor of the Judson Baptist Church in Oak Park, IL. He brings to his ministry a global perspective, having served as a missionary/pastor in Senegal, West Africa for nine years. He is also involved in a global equipping ministry, speaking and conducting workshops and training events at churches and conferences in the US and abroad. He and his wife Stephne have been married for forty years and have four adult children and nine grandchildren. He takes acting classes from time to time and is an ardent fan of science fiction films such as Star Wars and Star Trek.

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