Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ecclesiastes: Does Anything Really Matter? Day 23, Don't Ignore The Lord While You're Young, Part One

Solomon is a man who knows how to really live it up in a worldly way because he has the power and the money to get anything he wants. He spent his entire youth experiencing anything his heart desired. Because he's been through it himself, he knows the tendency of youth to put off forming a relationship with the Lord. He understands the type of young thinking that might lead a person to say, "I'm not ready to give my life to the Lord. I want to sow my wild oats. I have plenty of time to make things right later." Solomon made a lot of mistakes in his youth by running after idolatrous women and not requiring them to convert to the God of Israel. Instead, because his lust led him to want to please these women, he allowed them to retain their pagan religions and he allowed himself to be drawn away from the Lord. The Bible tells us that Solomon "did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done". (1 Kings 11:6)

The king begins today's discourse with these words, "Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun. However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all. But let them remember the days of darkness, for there will be many. Everything to come is meaningless." (Ecclesiastes 11:7-8) For the past few days Solomon has been providing us with proverbs that are helpful for daily living. It temporarily lifted his spirits to give us some good advice, but now he thinks, "Aw, what's the use of anything? No matter how careful we are to live right, we still have to live in a world where troubles come both to the righteous and the wicked. Yes, it's wise to enjoy the good days. It would be foolish of us not to appreciate them. But we should never forget that not every day of our lives is going to be good. What's the point of such a thing?" He's allowing the cloudy days to ruin the sunny days. His fears of the future are keeping him from fully enjoying today.

"You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless." (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10) Deep in his heart Solomon doesn't really believe there's no point to our lives on this earth. If he truly believed that, he wouldn't say, "Go ahead and live it up while you're young if you want, but you will have to answer to God for your sins. While you're young you have the strength and energy to indulge in anything your heart desires, but if those indulgences are ungodly there is a Judge before whom you will stand someday."

Solomon knows that when we are young we might decide to pour our boundless energy into the wrong things. Death seems impossible to us when we are that healthy. The day of judgment seems so far away that we don't trouble our minds about it. We can easily be seduced into thinking we should go out and experience everything there is to experience, whether it is sinful or not, and worry about the consequences later. But Solomon has learned all his lessons the hard way. He wants to help us avoid the mistakes he made in his youth. It's far better to use the health and strength and energy of youth to serve the Lord than to serve the flesh. "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them'." (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

The king gives good advice when he says, "Don't wait until you're an older man like me to give your heart to the Lord. You might not be in good health when you reach my age. You may lack the strength to do much work for His kingdom. Doesn't God deserve your best? Go ahead and start serving Him now in the health and energy of your youth. Do all you can for Him before your back starts hurting every time you stand for longer than ten minutes, and before you get short of breath while teaching or preaching, and before your mind becomes too forgetful to pass along your wisdom to the next generation. Don't say to yourself, 'There's plenty of time to serve God when I'm older. I'm going to do what I want now and repent of it later.' You don't want to reach my age and be full of regrets about how you spent your youth. I wish I'd spent those years serving the Lord. Then I'd really have something to show for them, something honorable and good."

Yesterday is gone and we can't do anything to change what we did with it. But this day is still young. We have control over what we do with today and with all our tomorrows. Why not go through this day with Christ? Why not spend every day we have left with Him? It's far too dangerous to keep putting it off because no one is promised tomorrow. The reason life without Christ seems meaningless and pointless is because it is. But life with Him is fulfilling and meaningful. He intends for it to be. So why put it off any longer? If you don't know the Lord, there's no better day than today to commit your life to the One who promises us not only eternal life after death, but a more abundant life here on earth. (John 10:10)

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