The Brevity of Life
James 4:13-17
Go to now, you that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:…

"What is your life?" There is a variety of answers to that question. The afflicted might say, "My life is a wearisome burden; when shall I lay it down in the grave?" The labourer might say, "My life is a dull round of toil; I rise early, and late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness." The prosperous might say, "My life is a continued joy; I cannot exaggerate its felicity; flowers strew my path, and overhead the skies are blue. I have sunshine within and without." But the apostle has his answer to the question; and remember that if it is melancholy, it is of God — it is God's own estimate of human life, "It is even a vapour," &c. This being so, shall we not ask what is the best improvement of this "little time," or, in other words, what is God's design willing it to us?

I. IT IS THE SEASON OF REPENTANCE. By nature we are sinful, abhorrent, therefore, to God's infinite purity, and devoid of righteousness. We must be brought to admit our vileness, our obnoxiousness to Divine justice, our dishonouring of God, our deep need of pardon. And life is the season for this repentance. It is protracted by the compassion of God for this very purpose.

II. IT IS YOUR SEASON OF GRACE — the period in which you may obtain forgiveness, together with a new heart and a heavenly hope.

III. IT IS THE SEASON FOR SELF-CULTURE. Have you no ambition to grow and mature and excel in piety? Do you not wish to be adorned and beautified, and enriched before you are summoned into the presence of the King of kings? Would you not be arrayed for that call in bridal garments which shall "smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces"? Is it not so that you have a great field within you, which you are to plough, and plant, and cultivate for God, till it shall be ripe unto the harvest?

IV. IT IS THE SEASON FOR USEFULNESS. Let us endeavour to throw more energy and enterprise into our Master's service this year.

1. Resolve that a New Year shall be distinguished by new resolutions. Wherever you feel you have been deficient, there hasten to repair the breach; there determine that, God assisting you, you will do better for the future.

2. Be a practical Christian this New Year. "Be zealous," not so much of good intentions and of good frames, as of "good works."

3. Be a cheerful Christian throughout this New Year. The renewed man has sources of joy which external circumstances cannot cloud or quench.

4. Be ready for your removal hence. There can be no solid serenity until we have looked death in the face, and overcome it by faith.

(James Bolton, B. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

WEB: Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow let's go into this city, and spend a year there, trade, and make a profit."

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