Monday, December 19, 2011

Ecclesiastes 11 & 12 - How to Live Life to the Fullest

LINKS: Ecclesiastes 11 and Ecclesiastes 12  
(Read over the next two days)

BACKGROUND/REFLECTION 

Solomon has concluded his reexamination of four arguments to support his conclusion that life is not worth living. Here is a summary of that reexamination by Warren Wiersbe:
Being a wise man, Solomon reviewed his arguments and this time brought God into the picture. What a difference it made. He realized that life was not monotonous but filled with challenging situations from God, each in its own time and each for its own purpose. He also learned that wealth could be enjoyed and employed to the glory of God. Though man’s wisdom couldn’t explain everything, Solomon concluded that it was better to follow God’s wisdom than to practice man’s folly. As for the certainty of death, there is no way to escape it; and it ought to motivate us to enjoy life now and make the most of the opportunities God gives us. 
(Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1990). Be satisfied (Ec 11:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.)
Solomon concludes this book in Ecclesiastes 11 and 12 by getting down to some practical applications for us that counters the four arguments:
  1. Life is not monotonous but an adventure of faith. So diligently live by faith making eternal investments through acts of charity (11:1-6).
  2. Death is certain but life is a gift from God who wants us to treasure and enjoy life (11:7 - 12:8).
  3. Wisdom of the world cannot answer the deeper questions of life but God's wisdom can, and He has given us the experiences of life to learn how to live according to His wisdom (12:9-12).
  4. Wealth is a waste if we do not steward all our wealth (money, time, abilities, talents, etc.) out of our reverence for Him (12:13-14).
1. Live by Faith  (11:1-6)

Solomon is pressing the rich into showing their faith by not being idle in doing good to others and giving freely. There are two possible interpretations for "casting your bread upon the waters."  One relates to merchant grain ships that Solomon would have been quite familiar with (1 Kings 10:15, 22). A merchant had to trust and wait for months for their ships to return. It was risky business to send them out upon unfamiliar and potentially dangerous waters. 

Another interpretation relates to the ancient world practice of casting seeds from boats into the overflowing waters of the Nile or marshy ground. When the waters went down, crops would spring up from the fertile soil (Isaiah 32:20), but what an act of faith to just throw it onto water! He continued his illustration using the farmer who has to trust God for all his crops.  The merchant (or alluvial plain seed sower) and the farmer have no control over the circumstances and must labor by faith.  Through these illustrations, he exhorts us to diligently labor on behalf of others, trusting that our investments today will reap eternal rewards tomorrow and into eternity. The New Testament equivalent of this would be Galatians 6:9, "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary" (see also Psalm 126:5-6 and Hosea 10:12). 

2. Enjoy Life Responsibly (11:7-12:8)

Solomon is drawing the young person into purer and more lasting joys by exhorting that person to remember/revere his or her Creator and live a lifestyle in fear of the Lord which is usually much healthier than one in pursuit of sensual pleasures! He exhorts us to enjoy life but do it responsibly before old age and death comes!

Today is a very DARK fall day. It is rainy and wet and cold, but my house is flooded with light as I have about 25 candles lit in my living room. It is my act of rebellion against the spiritual darkness by remembering God's blessings even though I was raked over the coals (link for our international readers who don't understand American idioms) by a frustrated 20-something last night. The frustrations were stemming from something deeper. So, I put away my pride and potential offense to get to the bottom of it. I remember what it was like to be in my 20's, and I once had a 50 something (like myself) comfort me both physically and spiritually in my frustrated days. She gave me such kind words telling me that she would never want to relive her 20's. I could have compassion for this 20-something too.  

After remembering this 50 something woman today, I looked her up so that I could call her and thank her for being light in a dark place of my life, but she passed away in 2004. Life is so short! We must learn to enjoy this life that He has given us with all its trials and hardships!

3. Live According to His Wisdom (12:9-12)

The world has its wisdom, and God has His. We need to choose God as our teacher in the school of life! Solomon was a wise teacher of God, and we can learn much through his proverbs and other writings (Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Psalm 72 and 127) about living wisely in this life. 

4. Steward the Wealth of Our Life (12:13-14)

Got has given us everything we need to live a full and rich life. We are to steward all of it by fearing God and keeping His commandments. It is so simple really! Corrie ten Boon said: 

"The measure of a life, after all, 
is not its duration but its donation." 

Let's steward that life as wisely as possible. 

APPLICATION

Are you living by faith by being generous with the wealth (both materially and spiritually) he has given you?  While it is great to have this happen year round, if you are reading this according to the Bible Book Club schedule, Christmas is only days away, and it is a great season for responding to the needs of others!

Are you enjoying the life that God has given you while living responsibly?  

Are you responding wisely to the challenges of life? 

Is God's Word running through your veins and out into the decisions you make every day?

Are you wisely stewarding the time, talents, wealth, and possessions He has given you?

PRAYER

Lord, Thank You that You have given us this life to enjoy and bring joy to You. Teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Help us to steward our time wisely because these days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). Help us to give generously (Proverbs 3:9,10). Teach us to fear You and keep Your commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Amen. 
Post a Comment