Day 28: Life is a gift (11:9,10)
“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity” (11:9,10).
“It is good to be able to enjoy the pleasant light of day. Be grateful for every year you live. No matter how long you live, remember that you will be dead much longer. There is nothing at all to look forward to. Young people, enjoy your youth. Be happy while you are still young. Do what you want to do, and follow your heart’s desire. But remember that God is going to judge you for whatever you do. Don’t let anything worry you or cause you pain. You aren’t going to be young very long.” (11:7-11 GNT.) Some of us can recall three-point sermons, with each point starting with the same letter of the alphabet. From the four verses that form our main text, we could make as our points: realistic, responsible and relevant. The Preacher rarely disappoints in his realistic assessment of how life is under the sun. His responsible approach on how to do so is commendable. His relevant observations of how things are, are noteworthy. He makes a wonderfully relevant point about the actuality of life and good things that are available to all of us, like the pleasant light of day and being able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, which unlike most pleasures that many seek after – are free. He follows this up with something that is obvious – to take each day as it comes and treat it as a gift – bearing in mind there will be dark days too and the ending of all that is death.
Ecclesiastes is often seen as a book that is intended for older people and he returns to that audience in his next (final) chapter. But now he right focuses on the young and aims his remarks at them. “Young people, enjoy your youth. Be happy while you are still young. Do what you want to do, and follow your heart’s desire” is pretty upbeat by any standard.There is wisdom in trying to draw in the young, and “churches” have often prioritised their resources to engage with the young, for the fact of the matter is – most people who give their lives over to God do so when they are young. We may well ask why, but being less encumbered by the heavy weights of life or being beholden to prejudice and being set in one’s ways are less likely to be barriers. But with his counsel to enjoy life while you are young, while you can, given you don’t have the duties, burdens and physical and mental limitations of older people, and yet to maintain that responsible approach: “But remember that God is going to judge you for whatever you do. Don’t let anything worry you or cause you pain. You aren’t going to be young very long”.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for the gift of life. Help us not to squander it.