The Gift Of God's Approval
A daily devotion for February 20th
7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. (Ecclesiastes 9:7)
Verse 7 is a most remarkable verse, because there is a statement in it of what we call in the New Testament the
New Covenant, God's new provision for living. It is clear from the New Testament that God has given us a gift of approval, of righteousness. Because we already have that by faith, we are freed, and no longer do we have to struggle vainly to try to please God; we live in a way that does please Him because we have already been accepted and approved by Him.
Notice how clearly that is stated here in verse 7:
Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. This is recognition, even in the Old Testament, of a relationship of righteousness that has already been established. It is true that basis was laid in our Lord's coming into this world and in His subsequent death and resurrection. Yet it is applied to all the people in the Old Testament, as well as in the New, who had faith in what God declared, who believed His Word and thus were given the gift of righteousness just as we are. Here the Searcher faces that as the real basis for life. If you want to find significance in your life, if you want to find deep meaning, peace, and contentment, this is the basis of it: Believe what God has given you already, and then, on that basis, live your life to the full. Fill it with all that is of value, reason, and worth.
White garments are a symbol in Scripture of practical righteousness, of good deeds being done that flow out of this new relationship that is already true. Oil is always the symbol of the Holy Spirit at work, so don't let oil be lacking on your head. Thus, here is a life filled with the Spirit, full of good works, flowing out of the realization that God already accepts us. That is the new basis for living. That is what Paul is talking about in Romans:
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law [with its demand that you measure up before God will accept you], but under grace [with its marvelous provision of righteousness as a gift] (Romans 6:14). It is yours for the taking though you do not deserve it, and by it you are rendered fully accepted and loved by God.
So right living follows that, and Solomon encourages us to live a normal life. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all your days. God ordained marriage for that reason, and it is right to enjoy the fullness of marriage. And then enjoy your God-given work. Work is not something we are forced to do in order to keep alive. Work is a blessing. Do it with all your might. Do not just get through it the best you can so you can get home and start enjoying yourself. Many of us live that way, but that is not the biblical way. The biblical approach is that work is given to you as a gift of God, so enjoy it.
Do we live like this? We who are Christians, we who know the reality of the gift of righteousness and have discovered the secret of contentment, of being able to handle even difficult conditions because of the joy that God imparts to us by His presence within, have we begun to live this way?
Teach me to live this way, Lord, allowing You to fill all the empty places of my life and enjoying the many gifts that you give.
Life Application: God's approval is always received and not earned. How many of us struggle to please God? Why is this always a vain attempt on our part?
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