Childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.
Ecclesiastes 11-12 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
11 Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. 2 Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. 3 If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies. 4 He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. 5 Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.
6 Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.
7 The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun. 8 Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility.
9 Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. 10 So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.
12 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”; 2 before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; 3 in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim; 4 and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly. 5 Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. 6 Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; 7 then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. 8 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!”
9 In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.
11 The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.
13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
The writer of today’s text in Ecclesiastes says: Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting. The older we get, the more we realize just how fleeting the days of childhood and the prime of life are. We should both heed and declare the warning of the writer; that God will bring us to judgment for all these things. Romans 2:4-11 says: Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. That there is no partiality with God, but yet we are judged according to our deeds, seems as though these two are at odds with each other since we do not begin with a level playing field. Some have the advantage of wealth and power; of beiing born in a prosperous nation, while others lack these same advantages. God levels the playing field. He makes all people equal in His sight regarding judgment because it is not based on our accomplishments, what we have done, but rather on our faith, what we believe. John 3:16 says: God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. God’s impartial judgment is based on what we do with what He did for us. Jesus continues in John 3:17-21 saying: “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” We will not be judged for enjoying life, but we will be judged for loving darkness rather than light.
As I read and meditated on the words of the text in light of my own age and the realization of the limit and the fleeting aspect of this life, I couldn’t help but to think that we should live our days with eternity in mind; not just our own, but the eternity of others as well. The text says: Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. We should view each day and every hour of the day as an opportunity to sow our seeds. This is not to sow to this fleeting life, but rather to sow into eternity. Long after we are gone, the seeds we have sown will continue to affect both this world and eternity, like the expanding ripples of a stone thrown in a peaceful lake. If we view each day, all that we do and all that we say, from the perspective of its eternal consequences rather than the fleeting pleasures of this life, our deeds will surely be different. Throughout Ecclesiastes the writer says: “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!” Yet, what we do with eternity in mind is not vanity.
For all who might feel that the prime of life or at least the joys of childhood and youth have passed, I encourage you as I am encoured by Caleb in Joshua 14:10-12: “Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.” If we will walk in the strength the Lord has given us, we can accomplish all that He asks of us. If we will live our days with the boldness and confidence of Caleb, we will do it; God will do it for us and through us. Will we view today as a day that affects eternity, not worrying about how many days remain? Will we be encouraged by 2 Peter 3:8, which says: Do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day? Today, what we do and what we say will continue for a thousand years and beyond.
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit for what You have done. Thank You that we are judged not based on what we accomplish, but rather on what we do regarding what You did for us. Thank You for today, this moment in eternity. I believe and empowered by the Holy Spirit I choose to sow seeds to eternity today and for as many days as You give me strength. Amen.