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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

A Vapor of Life

"For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."

(James 4:14 NKJV)

Who has never asked the apostle's question? We are all searching for meaning, and the question touches us so closely that it causes us to reflect. As children the curiosity to know where we come from stirs in us, then as we grow up we understand the mechanics and put it aside. We thus begin to question why we are living. Everyone seeks his or her purpose, however, not everyone finds it. Toward the sunset of one's existence, the question changes again. Looking beyond, one wonders where one will go and what will become of life.

Our life is not just pursuing happiness or earthly serenity. James reminds us that it is a "vapor", short-lived and without substance. Anything material we have been able to accumulate will deteriorate, but if we have strived to do good by caring for those around us something of ours will probably remain in someone's memory. That is why our existence is summed up in a gift to be made available to others. For society, life is a container to be filled with the most varied things-a kind of mentality, this, that does not belong to us. At least it should not, but apparently such a view is interpenetrated even in church circles. This has implied that the believer looks after his own vessel first and foremost, and is concerned with his own appearance. As a result, each one as an individual becomes the most important vessel, the one that must necessarily be decorated, that must necessarily stand out from the others, but not for the good that is accomplished, but rather for the beauty or elegance that is displayed. We have thus forgotten that Scripture teaches us that it is only a vapor!

I would like you to try to answer the apostle's question honestly. Take a pause to ask yourself, "How am I spending it?" Saul of Tarsus, before he was the apostle Paul, was a man learned in the ways of the Lord, had made his life a service to God, but according to his vision. He defended the Law and the temple by persecuting Christians, until the day when a light dazzled him, forcing him to see it differently. The persecutor understood that what was happening was something extraordinary that would challenge his existence and beliefs. Without mincing words he asked, "Who are you Lord?" (Acts 9:5). We too should ask the same question to the One who challenges our being. Yes, because our lives are often those of people who are convinced that they are always doing the right thing, who do not contemplate the possibility of conducting themselves in a manner opposite to God's will, especially if we are seeking personal fame. Not only that, even when we simply seek our family's happiness, material serenity, we have lost sight of the divine goal. We have forgotten that He who told us "Follow Me", also specified how in doing so it is necessary to renounce the rest so that we can become true disciples of Him.

The parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13) reminds us how foolish it is to aim to accumulate riches, as we are only mere stewards of what is entrusted to us. Every good is given to us precisely to "do good," but if such is not its intended purpose it will become a disadvantage to those who possess it. The greedy, the Bible declares, will not enter the kingdom of heaven, while it is very difficult for the rich man. The rich young man teaches: he was held back by his riches. Jesus came to give us abundant life, but what He intended is different from what we pursue. The abundant life He offers us is projected to eternity, while we are overcome by materialism. Jesus is the bread of life and the water that quenches our thirst, while we want to be satiated and watered by what the world offers us. From this we would have only dissatisfaction. In doing so we would have contravened what the Word commands us, "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). If we do not spend our lives well, we are heading in the opposite direction to God. May our existence then be an investment for the Lord, a mission for others, a vessel to give drink, a bread to feed, an instrument of peace and reconciliation. Only then can we leave a good memory and become an example. May the Spirit help us to live as it pleases God, reminding us that we are a vapor, drying grass; therefore those who have time do not wait for time.


Weekly Bible Reading

Plan #17

April 17, 2 Samuel 1-2; Luke 14:1-24

April 18, 2 Samuel 3-5; Luke 14:25-35

April 19, 2 Samuel 6-8; Luke 15:1-10

April 20, 2 Samuel 9-11; Luke 15:11-32

April 21, 2 Samuel 12-13; Luke 16

April 22, 2 Samuel 14-15; Luke 17:1-19

April 23, 2 Samuel 16-18; Luke 17:20-37

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