Aug. 10, 2020

What Does James 4:14 Mean?

What Does James 4:14 Mean?

James 4:14 (NIV): "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

This week in The Simple Truth Bible Study podcast, we're exploring James 4:13-17. 

Yesterday in James 4:13, James warned businesspeople of the danger of making plans with a total disregard for God.

In today's episode, you will learn:

  1. Why Jews were recruited to move to newly founded cities
  2. The common philosophy shared in ancient literature and the Bible
  3. What is more important than planning?


Did you know that you can easily listen to this Bible Study podcast on your Amazon smart speaker?

All you have to do is say "ALEXA, PLAY BIBLE STUDY.” 

No matter how busy life gets, you always have 2 minutes for God.


The Simple Truth is a listener-supported podcast. When you click on a link on this site, I might receive a small affiliate commission. Thank you for your support:-)


Hey, welcome to The Simple Truth. I’m Julie Carruth 

We’ve been studying a passage of scripture from the book of James that is addressed to businesspeople. If you recall, this letter was originally written to Messianic Jews, that is, Jews who converted to Christianity. 

William Barclay’s commentary gives some fascinating history that applies to what we’re learning. At the time of James’ writing, new cities were being developed. The Jews were known as great traders. In fact, when a person founded a new city in the ancient world, they would often recruit Jews to come and live in their new community because when the Jews came, the founders knew that money and trade followed. And since the original recipients of this letter were former Jews, they were the ones being recruited.  

Yesterday, we looked at the Simple Truth from James 4:13 that it’s a sin to make business plans with a total disregard of God.

And so, the idea here is of a Jewish person opening a map and pointing at a new city and deciding on their own to move there because they knew they could be on the ground floor of something great. Now, once again, it’s not that they made a plan to move or create wealth that’s wrong here. It’s that they did it without asking God for wisdom (which James has stressed several times to do in his letter) 

Verse 14 picks up with Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

The idea of not knowing when our last breath will come was something that was common in both in ancient literature and in the Bible. This wasn’t just a Christian or Jewish way of thinking.

You can find several verses in the Old Testament that remind us of the brevity of our life. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Do not boast about tomorrow,for you do not know what a day may bring.” Job 7:7 and Psalm 39:5 state that our lives are but a breath. 

Jesus also taught in Luke 12 that it is foolish to focus your life on storing up earthly wealth as if you will live forever, but never develop a rich relationship with God.   

Your simple truth for today: You never know when God will call you home. Do plan for the future BUT always keep your relationship with God first place in your life.  

Hey, did you know that we’ve made it easier for you to understand God’s Word? Subscribe at and each day we’ll be waiting for you in your inbox with today’s lesson AND a short recap of what we’ve been learning up to this point so that you’ll never feel lost. 

I’m Julie Carruth, and I’ll see you again tomorrow.