James continues in chapter 4 verse 13 with a seemingly mundane illustration of a businessman’s plans to make some money. He starts off this section with a rare phrase in the New Testament “Come now,” found only in James 4:13 and in our next section – chapter 5 v 1. It’s a verb in the imperative form – a command. James is commanding his audience to “come now,” which may also be translated as “Listen up!” But James previously used the word brethren, and here he uses the general phrase, “you who say.” This raises a question as to whether James is speaking to a group of unbelievers, as he does in chapter 5 v 1 where he uses the same phrase in reference to ‘the rich.’ But in the text before us, it seems as though the general, “you who say” also refers to believers, and so we will be looking at this first section in that way, and the next at the unbelieving “rich” in ch 5:1-6.
The central proposition of this text challenges us to examine how we live our lives. Do you live presumptuously? Do you presume life will go on, without any thought of God and His will – as James’ illustration brings out in v 13 “today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit?” Clearly those who speak and think in this manner are not planning with any thought of the Lord and His will; their thoughts are concerned solely with trade and profit. They are choosing their own time – today or tomorrow; their own location – such and such a town; and the duration – a year. James answers this folly in verse 14 “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanish