“Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun. So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity. Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity” (Ecclesiastes 11:7-10).
At times, we need a simple message to remind us that life here on earth is temporary. We tend to forget that due to the daily hustle and bustle of our practical lives and lose focus of how our busyness distracts us from focusing on what is most important.
Our attention is diverted toward a myriad of practical functions each day related to our marriages, families, employment, homes and hobbies that often pull us in conflicting directions. In each case, there is a cost associated with our time investment.
For instance, there is nothing wrong with providing provisional and leadership functions as a husband and father. Where we go astray is when we become lazy or indifferent toward spiritual disciplines under the false pretense that we are too busy with duties and responsibilities the Bible instructs us to perform as men and women, husbands and wives.
In this passage of Ecclesiastes 11, Solomon affirms that living in the moment is fine so long as we realize the spiritual ramifications our decisions have over time. In other words, if we decide to invest the time we are given in functions devoid of spiritual purpose and mission, we will reap the reward of that fruitless labor.
“Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist” (Proverbs 23:4).
However, if quality time with the Lord is prioritized above all else, what we say and do carry intentionality that aligns our personal will with the will of God. It takes long-term perspective to understand how fragile our time is here on earth.
Typically we live short-term, making decisions that impact here and now rather than what is to come. Therefore, Solomon reinforces the salvation decision every human being must wrestle with before they breathe their last. In other words, God may bless us with a long and fruitful life, but if we have not accepted His gift of saving grace by faith, the days of darkness (Hell) where we will reside for eternity will never end.
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).
Every day, countless individuals fail to realize Jesus paid the penalty of our sins to appease the wrath of God’s judgment spelled out in His law, while many more boldly reject Christ’s sacrifice and thus seal their eternal fate without slightest remorse.
Their eyes are blind to the absolute truth that His love is manifested in the satisfaction His law demands, because God’s wrath requires a blood sacrifice be made to atone for sin. And that is the true essence of propitiation, the appeasement of God’s wrath through the shed blood of Jesus.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:23-25a).
Sadly, many of us live under the false assumption that tomorrow is guaranteed, unaware that our spiritual compass has lost it’s true north. Solomon reminds us that whether our days are few or many, we cannot take a single moment for granted. We must rejoice in the blessings God bestows upon us but also remember that our time here on earth is momentary.
In fact the Bible teaches, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). This should sober our minds to realize the consequences of our actions through every word we speak and move we make. That is why Solomon emphasizes remembrance as a key component to living wisely.
A man who thinks this life is the end-all of fulfillment is foolish. He does not realize the fragility of not only his mortal life but his spiritual eternity. Mistakes and foolish decisions do not draw him into a state of self-examination where he realizes his insufficiency through failed self-sufficiency, but rather seals his fate when the day of reckoning arrives.
That is why Jesus reminds us, “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:38-39).
We can choose to live for selfish pleasure or God’s glory. We can speak with words of blessing or cursing to those we love. We can extend and share the resources God has graciously given us or hold them tightfisted for personal protection.
In each situation and circumstance the choice is ours to make and reap the consequences from. We control our eternal fate. Therefore, we must understand the magnitude of Solomon’s simplistic admonition and live our lives to the fullest while understanding the fragility of our existence.
Let us be clear though that we are not called to balance our personal will with the Lord’s will. God does not approve of a 50/50 negotiation where sin and righteousness coexist without the slightest regard for heart change. Faith in Christ mandates full, 100% surrender, which amplifies the importance of salvation and the impact judgment will have when we breathe our last.
“Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Romans 6:13).
No doubt, we will struggle every day to turn from sin and live for righteousness, but our theology must not allow us to lead double lives maintaining personal freedom apart from God to satisfy our selfish desires while living as bond-servants to a holy and righteous God. Hypocrisy must be eradicated if we are to act as salt and light to a fallen world.
Solomon concludes by encouraging us to remove vexation (frustration, worry, annoyance) from our hearts and pain from our bodies because youth and the dawn of life are vanity.
What is most intriguing is that this statement comes directly after Solomon instructs to walk according to the inclinations of our hearts and eyes, letting our hearts cheer us in the days of our youth but under the umbrella of God’s impending judgment. How then should we live? The key is to not be consumed by either extreme.
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:31-34).
When Jesus spoke these words, He did not encourage independent self-sufficiency nor promote a life crippled by stress, worry and anxiety. He simply instructed us to trust our Father in heaven and live according to His Word without fear.
Therefore, let us live without regrets so long as we understand that peace and freedom are found when we die to self and embrace God’s Word as our fountain of life. For our singular purpose in life is simple: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).