“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 vanishes.” (Jas 1:14)
Time. A simple four letter word. When we’re young we feel we have all the time in the world. When we’re old we wish we had more. Time. Time tells us when to wake up and when to go to bed. Time orders our day. Time governs when we can work and when we can play. Time.
Last night as I went to bed and this morning as I woke up I couldn’t get the topic of time off my mind. Last night a news story flashed across my phone about a high school student playing a pick up game of basketball collapsed and eventually passed away. This news story ushered this topic of time on my mind and has directed my thoughts today.
Solomon wrote about his journey of life without God. If there is one person that could speak on life’s trivial pursuits it is Solomon because he tried it all. “I have seen everything that is done under the sun,” Solomon tells us. (Ecc. 1:14) I have been there and have done that could be his motto. What does Solomon tell us about that pursuit? “and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” (Ecc. 1:14) Solomon’s explanation to us in Ecclesiastes; when you live life for me, myself and I, your time is wasted and all that you have acquired in life is meaningless.
Instead, in Ecclesiastes 12, Solomon exhorts us to, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth.” Why does Solomon use ‘Creator’ here? Why doesn’t he say, “remember God or The Lord?” Let me give you two reasons; Solomon uses Creator to point out that we are created beings and as created beings we are accountable for how we live our lives to the Creator. Second, everything that is created by the Creator is created for a purpose and Solomon throughout the book of Ecclesiastes has been trying to tell us, spending our time living outside of that purpose is meaningless. Jump down with me to verses13-14 and we will see accountability and purpose show up.
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Purpose)
For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Accountability)
Solomon is trying to help the young person by exhorting them to spend their time living for God. Solomon is trying to save them from heartache, read the rest of the first verse, “before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”” (Ecc 12:1). What are the evil days Solomon is referring to? Those days when you are old and you look back on your life and you realize you have wasted your time on the pursuit of meaningless stuff. Solomon is trying to save us the heartache he experienced by encouraging us to spend our time living for God from our youth. Youth don’t waste your time pursuing the meaningless things of life. I am not saying don’t pursue a career, go to college, buy a car or play sports. What I am saying is, above all, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33)
What if your youth is gone? It’s never too late to start pursuing God with your time. There is grace and forgiveness through the gospel of Jesus. That is why the gospel is such great news, the gospel provides redemption for those that have wasted their time and allows them to start anew. Don’t let regret hold you back from the gospel and starting fresh.
I want to leave you with a great New Testament echo of Ecclesiastes in Ephesians 5. In this passage Paul contrasts how followers of Christ should live as opposed to those that don’t follow him. Right in the middle of the passage he writes something that sounds like Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes,
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.“ (Eph 5:15-17)
Until next week when we get back to Jude, may God help us make the best use of our time.