Be happy, young man, 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 to judgment.Ecclesiastes 11:9
I am always amazed at the energy of young people. We have three grandsons living with us. When I come home, weary and tired, although they have been tearing around all day, they still want to wrestle with me. Sometimes I heave a sigh of relief when they finally give up and go to bed. George Bernard Shaw said,
Youth is such a wonderful thing it is a shame to waste it on young people. God gives the gift of youth, so rejoice in it. Young people, for the most part, always believe that everything is going to turn out all right, so they energetically pursue things. This verse encourages that.
Youth is the time to plan, to try new things, to explore new opportunities, new adventures. In my twenties I had the opportunity, following the outbreak of World War II, to go to the Hawaiian Islands and work in industry there. Youth is the time to seize opportunities and to follow our desires.
But--there is always a
but, isn't there? Remember that ultimately there must be an accounting. This book will close with that reminder again:
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil(Ecclesiastes 12:14). That is not a threat. It is simply a reminder to youth that though there are great, open doors of opportunity set before you that you will not have later in life, nevertheless, enter them with the realization that you must make wise choices. You must deny yourself the pleasures of sin; you must make choices in the light of what will ultimately be the evaluation of your life.
He goes on to specify exactly what he means. First,
Remove vexation from your mind (Ecclesiastes 11:10a RSV). Vexation is a word that combines the thoughts of anger and resentment. Young people tend to be angry and resentful when things do not go the way they like. That is what makes young people rebel. So
remove vexation from your mind.
cast off the troubles of your body (Ecclesiastes 11:10). Put away dangerous things--drugs, wrongful use of your sexual powers, damaging things, smoking, drinking--stop them. That is living thoughtfully through life.
Remember, too, that
youth and vigor are meaningless (Ecclesiastes 11:10). Even that glorious experience of youth is not the reason life was given. Here again we see a challenge to the secular illusions that we are subjected to all the time. Youth is what is held up for us to emulate. But youth is in itself emptiness. It is not vitality that will satisfy, but a relationship with a living God. Life finds its fulfillment, its meaning, only as you develop a relationship with the living God daily through your life. That is why the Searcher goes on to say in the closing chapter,
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1a).
Lord, one day I will stand before You and give an account of what I have done. Let me live now, at whatever stage I am, with this end in mind.
Youth with all its glory and energy is full of opportunity. While still young are we increasingly thoughtful and mindful of our relationship with the living Lord? How so?