James 4:14, Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
James 4:14 is a great verse as it asks the pointed question, “For what is your life…” The verse goes on to define what life is when it says, “It is even a vapour,”.
Recently, on a Sunday night, my Pastor preached one of the most powerful messages out of this passage that I have ever heard. Watch here: https://youtu.be/JWqw4pxFvY4
After that message I could not help but ponder one word in James 4:14. That word is “vapour.” Now, the word is spelled v-a-p-o-r today and when thinking of the word I am not thinking about “vaping.”
Vaping is a sin and the indulgence of it causes us to be unjust stewards of our money and our health. That was free! 🙂
Back to the actual study or thought.
As I thought about that word vapor, and I pondered the fact that our life “is even a vapour;” I could not help but think about what makes a vapor and what a vapor actually is. If this is what my life is then I want to know what it means – don’t you?
Here is the definition of the word vapor as found in the Noah Webster 1828 dictionary.
VA’POR, noun [Latin vapor ]
1. In a general sense, an invisible elastic fluid, rendered aeriform by heat, and capable of being condensed, or brought back to the liquid or solid state, by cold. The vapor of water is distinguished by the name of steam, which see.
2. A visible fluid floating in the atmosphere. All substances which impair the transparency of the atmosphere, as smoke, fog, etc. are in common language called vapors, though the term vapor is technical applied only to an invisible and condensible substance, as in No. 1; fog, etc. being vapor condensed, or water in a minute state of division. vapor rising into the higher regions of the atmosphere, and condensed in large volumes, forms clouds.
3. Substances resembling smoke, which sometimes fill the atmosphere, particularly in America during the autumn.
Up until now, each time I read that phrase I simply thought about the fact that our life is brief, and therefore, we must be determined to live our life for God before He calls us home. That thought is correct, and it is very true that our life is very brief, and because it is a vapor (in comparison to eternity) we must be diligent to never waste a moment of the wonderful gift of life, and we should live our life for God.
Thank you for staying with me until now!
After I began to look at the phrase, “It is even a vapour,” I began to ask myself, “what makes a vapor?” I went on to look up the definition in several places, and the application of that word is what I share with you today.
A vapor is made up of HEAT!
In order for there to be vapor – there must be heat. Every living person on the planet would have to agree that there are times in life when we are heated up and our life starts changing dramatically.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “they are in some hot water now”? LOL…we have all either said that or heard that. There are times when the “heat” in which we are facing is brought on by our own actions.
THEN, there are times when the heat we are facing is brought on by the Lord and it is part of the refining fire that we face as found in I Peter 1:7, “That the trial of your faith, being more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”
The Christian life will require some refining heat so that we may become the servant of God that He needs us to be so that He might fashion us into the tool that He needs for the task He has in store for us to accomplish for Him.
Looking at the word “vapor” would also cause us to see that it is invisible until heated and when heated becomes a steam. There are times when our life gets heated in the furnace of a trying time, but it is at that point where people might begin to look on us, and some of them may have never even heard of us before, but because of what we are facing they now look our way. It is so important that during your time of refining and the invisible vapor of your life becomes a visible steam, that people see Christ in you!
Just as we are to be good stewards of our money, our time, our children, our ministry, and the list goes on and on; we must also be good stewards of the trials that we face.
Have you ever looked up at the clouds and stood amazed at the majesty of God? Those clouds are so beautiful when placed upon the canvas of a bright blue sky and highlighted by the striking rays of the hot sun. However, those same clouds can turn gray when full of water as their thickness increases and they grow denser as they prepare to send forth rain or snow upon the earth beneath.
Point is…there will be some beautiful cloudy days as the sun shines brightly, and there will be some dark stormy days as the clouds of your life are surrounded with crashing thunder.
Both settings are necessary in our life!
Those sunny days refresh us and help us to stand in awe of the wonder of our magnificent Lord. Yet, the rain that falls from the heavens helps to keep the grass green, helps the crops to grow, and fills the rivers and streams for proper nutrition for both man and beast.
One day take time to look at a dirty mud puddle and then, look up and locate a beautiful white cloud. That dirty mud puddle may have been caused by quite a storm, but when the storm passed, and the skies cleared into a sunny day with bright white clouds filling to blue sky; remember, those clouds are in the sky because water from earth was heated up at some point and vaporized so that it could regather in the sky to complete the cycle and send rain to earth again.
That dirty puddle, once it gets heated will begin to vaporize and will eventually be gathered into one of those beautiful white clouds again.
So, if you are facing a difficult time, and you feel like you are simply a puddle that people walk through, jump in, and drive over – do not fret!!
Let the heat, which you are enduring, turn you to the vapor which your life already is, and before long you will find yourself part of the beautiful cloud formation overhead, and much more valuable to the cause of Christ than before; for “when I am tried and purified, I will come forth as gold!”
I will close by stating that vapor rises! As the heat of the sun begins to warm the water of that mud-puddle the water begins to evaporate as it changes into a gas and it rises upward.
May we as Christians allow the heat of a situation and circumstance we face to cause our gaze to rise upward as we,
“…lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord…” Psalm 121:1,2
Just a thought about that word “vapour” in James 4:14. Thank you Pastor Neal for a powerful message this past Sunday night entitled, “What Is Your Life?”. I have mused on it every day this week. Listen here: https://sermons.immanueljax.org
Happily married to Sarah G, the father of three incredible children.