A young man, Jack, and a young lady named Diane won a college contest to sit down with one of their professors. This professor was a very accomplished older man named John. John’s life was one of endeavor accomplishment, learning, and wisdom. John had multiple degrees in different fields. He began his life as a lawyer, and then he went into both local and national politics. Then in his 50s, John decided he was going to do a whiplash transition and become a counselor. So, he became a licensed counselor and in his 50s and 60s helped people walk through the issues of life. Once he hit his 60s, he decided to retire, and he became an adjunct professor at a university.
So as a lawyer, politician, counselor, and teacher this guy had a lot of wisdom to give away, and Jack and Diane were going to be the recipients. They were very excited and even a little intimidated. John was a favorite professor at this university because he both taught the curriculum but really spoke into the lives of his students. He seemed very genuine and willing to share from his life experience. So, the three of them met at a local coffee shop and Jack and Diane spent that afternoon peppering John with questions that were both silly and serious. He answered all of them with father like tenderness. As they were nearing the end of their time, John looked at this young man and young lady and said, “Hey, can I give you two bits of advice that I’ve learned in my life? Of course, they were willing and eager to hear what this guy had to say, and this is what he said to them,
“People seem to be looking for the perfect bit of advice in life when, in fact, there’s a lot of good advice depending on your experience or age. You have the ability to impart something that someone doesn’t know yet, and you can help them out in life. So here are just two things from my life that will help you.”
John continued with this,
“I want you to labor daringly and celebrate soberly. What I mean is don’t feel like you have to have all the answers in front of you in order to move forward because life rarely works that way. You often have to act without knowing everything. Don’t be afraid to act. In your life where you are in life right now, celebrate your life soberly. Think about what life is like in college and enjoy it but do it with your brain on. Celebrate being young.”
John then described to them that at his age in his 70s in his 60s that he could look back with real affection to when he was in high school and college and those early 20s, and it was a uniquely enjoyable period of life. He continued,
“The truth is, no matter how hard you try, every day that passes means you’re getting older. Youth is wonderful, but youth is not life. Many if not most people your age in college have a view of life that it will always be good, and their dreams will come true, and that can definitely happen. But it rarely happens in a perfect paradise of life. The reality is that life is hard. There are difficult days ahead but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy and celebrate your life right now. It actually means enjoy today recognizing that you don’t know what tomorrow holds.”
Jack and Diane thanked John for his advice. They left the coffee shop with their heads swimming about these two ideas of labor daringly and celebrate soberly. Where did they need to act? Where were they frozen because they didn’t know? Did they really enjoy the way they were living right now? The way John spoke to them wasn’t discouraging even though it was really honest. Wiser than they were a few hours ago, they walked down the road into the rest of their life.
In a way, that is a modern retelling of Ecclesiastes Chapter 11. Solomon is John. Solomon is this wise older man who is sitting down with younger people giving them two bits of advice: labor daringly and celebrate soberly. That’s what we’re going to look at today. What is Solomon trying to tell us, as it were, over a cup of coffee? So, we’re going to divide this into two sections. Let’s begin with labor daringly. We’re going to read this text again, and what I want you to do is for one moment just step out of this being in Ecclesiastes and in the Bible and just listen to these words as if it was over coffee. Here he goes,
“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth, and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. He who observes the wind will not sow and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones and the woman in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.”
So, let’s look at some key thoughts and see if we can understand this passage.
Key Thought #1: Interpretive challenges. There are some interpretive challenges to this particular text. Discerning the exact meaning especially of the two metaphors at the beginning is kind of difficult. Even really smart people who write books about Ecclesiastes humbly admit it’s hard to really nail down exactly what it means. So, for instance, “Cast your bread upon waters for after many days will return to you.” Why am I throwing bread into a river and why in the world do I want three-day old soggy bread to come back to me? What’s going on with that? Why do I want that to happen? Give a portion to seven or eight. What’s a portion? Who are the eight people? How do I decide who they are? What’s he doing? So, we want to admit that their interpretive challenges, and basically there are two schools of thought to look at these initial metaphors.
- School of thought number one: the Preacher is talking about generosity. Generosity the idea of giving away your stuff. He’s using these metaphors to communicate the idea of how generosity is wise. A person who is generous will typically be in a position to receive similar aid when they need it. They’re going to throw their bread out there and at the right time it’ll come back. They’re going to give away to seven or even eight people to help them out. They’re going to be generous.
- School of thought number two: the Preacher is talking about industry or work or investments. He’s using the same metaphors to describe how to invest or work. Invest in seven or eight things so that you know you’re going to get a return upon it. Throw your bread out there, and a return will come.
So, the point is either the wisdom of generosity to other people or the point is the wisdom of wise investment with work. Now here’s the good news. Even with interpretive challenges, the application of either of those, when taken within the context of the whole passage, is the same. Do it. Either be generous or work hard. Invest wisely or in the language of today labor daringly. Do it even if you don’t know you can labor.
Which leads us to Key Thought #2: we don’t know. Lack of knowledge isn’t a new thing for those of us who have been around Ecclesiastes for the past several months. He does it 11 other times in the book, and in our passage today he tells us of multiple things that we don’t know. You do not know what disaster may happen on earth. You can’t predict what’s going to happen on earth. You do not know the way the spirit comes into the body. You don’t know how I got a soul. You don’t know how God does that.
And finally, you don’t know the work of God who makes everything. No one in here has God’s day planner and can tell me what God’s about to do today. No one has that ability. So, guess what Solomon is trying to tell us? “We don’t know.” We’re not all aware. That’s a key to understand this labor daringly. We can still be generous, or we can be wise workers even when we don’t know everything.
Key Thought #3: Notice the action words. Cast in verse 11 Give in verse 2. Sow and Reap in verse 4. Sow in verse 6. Withhold not your hand in verse 6. Even when we don’t know, Solomon is clearly telling people to labor, to work to sow, to reap, to invest, to be generous without knowledge. Lack of knowledge need not result in lack of action. You can act. You can move. You don’t have to have everything under your thumb.
So, labor daringly is shorthand for this section of the chapter. He’s calling on us to work to give or invest even when we don’t know everything that’s going to happen, even when we admit we don’t know. So, what I want to do is quickly walk through each part each verse of this section, and chew on it a little bit, and then we’re going to ask ourselves the question at the end, “So what? What difference does this whole thing make for us anyway in real life?” Again verses 1 and 2 whether they’re talking about generosity or industry point us towards action: cast, give away.; there’s going to be a return. You need to do this; you don’t know what’s going to happen, so you need to be ready. If you have diverse investments you’re safe, or if you’ve helped seven or eight people you’re in a wiser place. Verse 3 is profoundly simple. When the clouds are full of rain, it rains. If a tree falls down, where it falls down is where it falls down.
So, what in the world is Solomon doing right there? What is he trying to tell us? I think it’s communicating the randomness of life and once again our actual lack of control. So, imagine being in a culture where literally this week we depend upon rain to happen in order to eat. Now I know in a general sense we all still depend upon rain in order to eat, but we have the luxury of depending upon rain in America, South America, Europe, Japan, wherever we import food from as long as there is rain somewhere more than likely we will have food. Here if it didn’t rain, you had to travel to find food or find a place where it was raining and bring it back. There’s no control over the rain. When the clouds are full that’s when it rains, and you can’t do anything about it. Somewhere in South Carolina National Forest right now a tree is falling. And it’s going to end up where it falls. It didn’t ask anybody to rent a space where it was going to fall it just falls, and we can’t control where trees fall. We don’t know, and we have a lack of control and events happen.
Verse 4 is the picture of paralysis by analysis. The person who just can’t do anything because they keep looking at the situation over and over and over and the image there is kind of funny. It just kind of talks about watching the sky. So, I want you guys to imagine a guy in a garage. He’s kind of looking out on his yard, and he’s going to plant a garden out there. He’s actually sitting in a lawn chair looking at the sky and he sees a cloud over on the horizon, and he decides well there’s no reason to plant that garden today it’s about to rain. It’s going to rain.
You’ve got someone standing there with binoculars looking at the sky, and in front of them is this garden ripe with fruit and vegetables ready to be brought into the house. Instead they’ve got binoculars looking for any cloud, and when they find it, “there’s no need to go to work here. I can’t bring that in right now. It’s going to rain.” If you watch the sky. You’re not going to sow or reap. You’re just going to stand there and watch the sky. Verse 5 is the humbling power of the miracle of life.
Now I know we can scientifically explain how a child gets into the womb of a mom. But none of us can tell how the spirit, how the soul, gets into that person. And that is a very humbling thought. We don’t know how that happens and as we don’t know that, we don’t know God’s work who makes everything. We don’t know. He knows everything, because He made it. I think there’s a moment for us here in Ecclesiastes to pause and consider God. He makes a really big statement. God made everything. That means that God is really big and really powerful.
Now what’s weird is our brains actually lack the power to literally comprehend how big God is. And you kind of get into that short circuit feeling in your brain where it’s like thinking about eternity. I can’t understand that. I can’t understand how big God is, but I think the action of trying to figure out how big God is really healthy. Because you come face to face with this: I can’t even understand how big He is.
So, let’s do one experiment to see if we can wrestle with how big God is. I want you to get a number in your brain of how many fish species you think there are in the waters of the world. I know for many of you this is a wild guess, but just get a random number. Just think about how many you think are out there. The Florida Museum of Natural History tells us that there are over 27,000 species of fish. The God who makes everything. Now that’s just a fish. Throw into that plants and animals and the estimates go up to there are 1.98 million species on earth. And we continue to discover more even after all these years. What that leads us to believe as we start comprehending those types of numbers, our brain starts shutting down and that’s the beginning. Me shutting down is the beginning of understanding how big God is. I lack the power.
What we get do in this moment of the God who makes everything is we get to see who He is and what He’s like. If God made everything, if God thought, “you know what this world is going to need twenty-seven thousand species of fish” that reveals that our God is a powerful fun creative being. There is some, you know what, I think it’s going be cool for them to know what an eel is – that slimy thing. I’m going to make that. Let them see an eel. I had to couple of people come up after first service and show me weird pictures of weird fish. And like God just made these fish. My daughter loves narwhals the whale with the big spike on it.
What’s the deal with that? You know what the deal is? Our God is humongous. And He had to create something that blew our minds. He made everything. In verse 6, the Preacher comes back to his point about giving or work and he adds some time frames. It doesn’t matter whether it’s morning, you need to go sow if it’s evening, don’t withhold your hand from what you need to do. You don’t know what’s going to happen. Don’t hold back. You can’t predict the future. Labor daringly. Work even when you don’t know. Give even when you don’t know. So, what do we do with this passage? Can it really connect to real life? Let’s see four ways that I hope it will.
First: Wise people work. Stop pretending life would be better if you didn’t have to work.
I don’t care your age. There’s this weird thing that the really good life is a good life where I don’t have to work. That’s just not true. It’s assumed in Ecclesiastes that what, you have to do your role, your work whatever it is that’s your gift. That’s your lot from God, so enjoy it. This whole theme of Ecclesiastes, stop pretending, stop pretending that if you could take work out of your day that you would actually be happy and content.
This goes for all of us. Kids, like younger kids when your mom and dad are talking to you about work in your home like cleaning rooms dishes laundry mowing lawns all of that fun stuff, when your parents are doing that, and you have this idea if I didn’t have to do that I would be happy. This guy in the Bible is looking at you going, “That’s actually not true.” And you know what’s crazy, if you kids are listening to me right now. Do you know what? Your parents sometimes believe that same lie. It just looks different. They don’t want to go to work. Because life would be better if I didn’t have to work. Let’s stop pretending. Cast, give, invest, work.
Number 2: Wise people know they don’t know. Stop pretending that you can know or control the world. So, personal testimony time: if there is a theme that has come out of Ecclesiastes this time going through it for me, it’s this whole, “You don’t know, Ryan you can’t control; You can’t plan.” Living out of that is so subtle. The idea that I actually do know what’s going to happen, so I’m going to lay out all of these plans and life’s going to go just like my calendar says. It’s just not true. But I can live under this false delusion that I actually am in control, that I actually do know what’s going to happen, that I can predict the disasters. Solomon’s looking at a guy like me and going, “Ryan, sorry bro, you can’t do that.”
Number 3: Wise people don’t wait for perfect conditions to give or invest. Stop pretending that you will know for certain when you should act. It’s interesting. If he’s talking about generosity, sometimes in order to learn to be generous, you have to be generous. You have to be willing to give away. And I know some of you when you hear something about generosity you’re, “I’m barely making it, Ryan. We’re bill to bill.” I get it. But generosity isn’t always money. It can be. So sometimes if it’s money for you, you might have to budget $5 a month that for you is just “I’m going to invest this in other people and I don’t even care about the amount. It’s not that it’s going to daringly riskily give away $5 that I actually might need in faith.”
You might have to invest your work, your time, your emotional resources into something. Derek Kidner writes this, “[The Preacher] once again expresses a skeptical attitude toward life” [We’ve experienced the Preacher do this all the way through Ecclesiastes. You kind of feel like he’s got a real negative view towards life but here Kidner adds] “though not a skepticism that leads to inactivity.” We don’t read this part of Ecclesiastes 11: 1- 6 and conclude, “Well I’m just going to sit on the sofa and play Xbox. What’s the point?” No, he says you don’t know what’s going to happen. You may not know. Cast give sown invest give away.
Do it even if you don’t know. It leads us towards action. And 4, and very practically, Wise people diversify the investment of their resources. Stop pretending that life is about you. Where are you investing your resources? If you if you had to fill out what I would call a garden journal like we rip off from Ecclesiastes these sowing and reaping images, and you had to describe your life as a gardener. Where are you investing? Where are your resources going? Not just money your emotional resources your spiritual resources discipleship resources. Where are you planting and where are you reaping? Ecclesiastes is coming in and saying hey broaden that out give away give to seven or eight throw your bread out there.
It’s going to come back. He’s calling on us to invest sometimes even in a spiritual sense we always want to be ready. I’ll disciple somebody after I take three more classes and I have a lot more time to really know the answer to every question. Ecclesiastes would say you don’t know that. Do you love Jesus? Do you know His word? Grab somebody else and say, “Hey let’s walk through life. I want to pour into you.”
Give away; cast your resources. Tremper Longman writes this, “One of the frustrating things of life observed in [chapter 9] was the fact that time and chance can overturn our finest plans. If that can be a paralyzing thought” [if the fact that your plans can be ruined paralyzes you, Longman adds this,] “it can also be a spur to action: for if there are risks in everything” [If we don’t know and every investment we make is really not a sure thing.] “it is better to fail in launching out than in hugging one’s resources to themselves.” You are better off from an Ecclesiastes point of view of giving yourself away not knowing than holding onto yourself and believing you know. Give. Labor daringly. Risk.
Now, we’re going to read Ecclesiastes 11:7-10. We’re going to do that same thing. Listen to this as advice from a wiser older person. And then we’ll chew through it.
“Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun. So, if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but that and remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity. Rejoice O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.”
So, in this section just two key thoughts.
Key Thought #1: Breathe the fresh air of Verse 7. Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun. Life is a good thing. One commentator actually wrote that this is the Preacher at his most optimistic moment of the book. He’s concluding that life is good. Light is sweet. It’s good to see it. A few weeks ago, a guy from our church, Toby, taught from Ecclesiastes and described how a biblical and realistic view of death is that it’s evil. Here and verse 7 a realistic and biblical view of life is that it’s good.
Life is good.
Key Thought #2: Remember the structure of Ecclesiastes. This is going to be important to discover some of the statements that he makes. A few weeks ago, Peter described and kind of gave us this example of what the structure of Ecclesiastes looks like. This circle of wisdom madness and vanity. He’ll say something that sounds really wise and positive and then follow it up with a madness or almost a contradictory statement. And then at the end lament that everything is vain anyway. So, this is important as we walk through this to see it’s all of those moments are kind of pulling us in towards God. And he does the same thing here multiple times in this text.
Let’s look at one example, and chew through all of these verses like we did earlier. Here’s an example of this structure in verse 8. Wisdom: if a person lives a long time, let him rejoice in all of his years. That sounds so good. I want to do that. His next statement is remember the days of darkness will be many. OK Solomon thank you for that. And then this final phrase is all that comes is vanity OK. Thank you.
And what it what it does is it makes us step back and think. We’re going to chew through this in a second. Is he being honest with everything he says? Does he want us to actually do all of that? We’ll answer that in a moment. So, let’s go through the text and we’ll get there. So, in verse 7 again we have that really optimistic statement. I think it’s hilarious that we’re in this passage after having record setting weeks of rain in South Carolina. There’s probably not a better moment for people to look at this verse and understand what it means. We had so much rain that when the sun would actually shine through here at the office, it’s almost like people were looking at the sun like they had never seen it before. What is this ball of light in the sky? It feels warm. And that’s what he’s saying – there literally is something about light is sweet. It’s good for us to see the sun, and he’s going after the goodness of life the goodness of living.
In verse 8 as we saw a moment ago, he starts with that Ecclesiastic structure he says something wise he says something mad and follows it up with vanity. In verse 9 we see a similar thing new topic. The Preacher is speaking to young people. He repeats the same command: rejoice young people in your youth; let your heart be cheerful. Follow your eyes and your heart go after your dreams. And then he comes in with God’s going to judge you.
So, what are we going to do with that? He says after that that all of youth and the dawn of life are vanity. So, what I want us to wrestle with for a second is he being honest like intellectually honest with us? Does he want us to do all of those things? Believe the wisdom actually believe what he’s saying in the madness or the contradictory and understand where he’s going with the idea of it being vain. Does he want people to rejoice? Does he want the youth to rejoice?
So, I’ve tried to come up with some modern examples of that cycle of speech and I think I’ve found some and then I’ll share one that literally happened to me last night. So, couple of situations. Situation #1: You are going on a trip with your family. You’ve been saving. You’re able to buy some airline tickets you guys are going to fly to Disney World and you share that with some friends and they look at you and go oh we are so excited for you. Disney World is awesome. Remember to take vitamin C before you get on the plane that is full of bacteria and viruses. Thank you. You know again it’s that same feeling like are you really happy I’m going to Disney World?
You’re young married and you just discover you’re having your first kid. And so, you go to your Life Group that next week and you’re ready and you share with that Life Group, “Hey we’re about to have a baby” They are so excited for you; they look at you. Oh, that is great. It’s wonderful. Your life’s about to change. You can forget going out. You’re never going to sleep again. They take all your money. Are you happy we’re having a kid or not?
What are you saying? Last night, this literally happened last night, I took my kids to the pool; we’re on the way back and I may or may not have been singing a Broadway show tune and in the middle of that my two older kids were kind of making fun of me for my singing. My youngest daughter looks at me and says Dad I don’t care what they say. You’re just expressing yourself no matter what you sound like. You know because at the beginning you’re like oh she’s on my team she’s with me. I’m going to sing. Wait a minute – no matter what you sound. You know. Is that not some of our experience with Solomon where he sets us up and then you feel like he comes in after that and goes “oomph.”
But if we ask the question is he being honest? Does he want us to do everything there? Does he want us to believe it? I think the answer is a resounding yes. What I love about it is Ecclesiastes is brutally honest. It tells us what life is really like, and I think from our experience in life we actually if we think it through we resonate with what he’s saying. We really want to rejoice in life. No one here I think at this point is shocked that he’s saying sometimes in life it’s going to be hard. I think even kids understand that. The opposite in our culture is people who are following messages and faith that proclaimed to them if you just do the right things then you’ll never get sick you’ll have all the money in the world you want you’ll have all the right possessions everything will be great. And you have people flock after that as much to medicate their own personal experience as it is that they really believe it. Why? Because life proves it’s wrong. Watch the news; it’s not true.
So, when he gives us these moments of hey if you live a lot of years rejoice in them all, but do so recognizing life can be hard. And what comes at you in this world is not all the meaning in the world. He is being honest. Young people enjoy your life but know that God is a part of it.
He will bring an accounting. The Preacher then finishes Chapter 11 with a warning about our mindset towards youth. He says rejoice youth. Rejoice in all your years. Follow your heart. But then he says that youth and the dawn of life are meaningless. Don’t have anxiety or worry over your youth. It is momentary. It is not the ultimate meaning. Celebrate life soberly. Celebrate while thinking.
What do we do with this section? What’s the point? What difference does it make? Can it really connect to everyday life? And let’s see. A couple of things same format trying to connect it to this idea that Ecclesiastes tells us stop pretending.
#1: Wise people don’t worship youth. Stop pretending that staying young will make you happy. Youth and the dawn of life they’re vanity. Yes, you can rejoice in them. You can celebrate them. But as ultimate meaning they lack the power to give you the perfect life you want. If under the sun what you’re banking on for a good life is your youthfulness, then you’re going to be in trouble. Why? Because everyone here is a day older than they were yesterday.
The wrinkles are coming no matter what we do. Staying young, and perhaps more specifically looking young, is the hope of a lot of our culture. I was going to use a visual aid at this point to illustrate how our culture follows this. I was going to use before and after Botox and plastic surgery pictures gone wrong. But I want to tell you something. I am going to talk about it but I’m not using the pictures because my reaction: I laughed.
And in some of these pictures it is very clear that someone is pursuing a goal a desire a need to the point where they lose control. And mar the very image bearing device that God created. Now I’m going to say this a couple of times. This is not anything against plastic surgery or anything like that. It’s your hope. It’s youth and dawn of life they’re a vain thing to put hope in because they disappear no matter what medicine can do about them. If you google looking younger, you will receive 400 million results in 0.063 seconds.
The first page of that search every listing has a number in it. Something like this: 25 Easy Ways to Look Younger, Looking Younger: 10 Secrets Even Your Best Friend Doesn’t Know. I don’t know what to do with that one. What’s wrong with your best friend? 18 Little Ways to Look Younger. How to Look Younger than Your Age – 17 anti-aging secrets. 40 Ways to Look Younger. If you add up the first page, you have approximately 180 some ways to look younger. Sean Rossman in the USA Today April 12 issue wrote that Americans spent in 2016 around $16 billion on elective surgery in the previous year.
Again, I’m not saying anything about plastic surgery looking young staying fit go into the gym dressing well looking good not saying anything about that. What I am talking about is that under this sun that your hope your identity your personhood is wrapped up in something that the author of Ecclesiastes in the Bible says that’s going to fade away. That’s going to float away like a kite in the breeze. The Preacher gives us an honest picture of youth. It is something to be rejoiced in. We’re going to talk about that in a second. Those of us who are past our youth can probably really believe that. It was something to be rejoiced in. But to hold on to youth as the foundation of your life is like chasing the wind or trying to catch a breeze. It doesn’t work.
#2 Wise people rejoice in all of their years both light and dark. Stop pretending a perfect life is possible.
This is reflected in the New Testament all over the place. Rejoice, again I say rejoice, Paul says in Philippians. In all circumstances, Paul says, I’ve learned to be content. There is in Christ the ability to rejoice in all of life both light and dark days. There’s a bigger power that exists in me that defines me and informs me than the events of my day. And that is admitting the days are hard and nasty and dark and discouraging but there’s something in me in Christ that is bigger and to pretend that if every day was just good if I could get all the problems out of my life then I would be happy.
He’s looking at us and saying it’s not true. That’s not the real meaning of your life. Don’t be caught off guard by dark and difficult times. Stop pretending if every day was a good day you would be fine. We’ve already learned in Ecclesiastes that both the good days and the dark days are from God. #3: Wise Young people rejoice in their life soberly. Stop pretending your choices are disconnected from God.
So, here for a minute I’m going to define who young people are, and I would love for you guys to listen to me. So, I’m going to call young because I’m up here I get to define it. It is going to be if you are like kindergarten elementary school middle school high school or early 20s. Broad range of youth. But go with me. So, if you’re in that category kindergarten elementary school middle school high school early 20s just after high school. I’d love for you to listen to me, and I want to read this again. Wise young people rejoice or take joy or enjoy their life. Those of us who love Jesus in our young part of our life, we enjoy our life, but we do it knowing that God is part of our life.
So, kindergarten and elementary kids if you are in kindergarten or you’re an elementary school, I want to talk to you guys right now and everybody else just gets to listen along. Do you know what this passage is saying to you?
Enjoy your life. Enjoy being with friends. Enjoy being silly. Enjoy laughing at inside jokes. Have fun going to the pool playing video games climbing trees playing outside running jumping enjoy ice cream and donuts and brownies and fruits and vegetables.
Enjoy those too. Enjoy being with your family. Enjoy looking forward to Christmas. Enjoy days off of school because we get snow or ice. Enjoy all of that. Middle school and high school if that’s you and you’re here listen. Do you know what the Bible says that your life can be in Jesus? Enjoy your life. Like it.
This might be controversial. Enjoy social media and if you can within the confines of how God calls us to interact with people and what to look at. If you can’t interact with that with true joy, then guess what? Get rid of it. Set it aside. It’s not worth it. Enjoy social media if you can. Go on adventures. Go to camp. Get a job. Make extra fun money. Treasure your friendships. Do crazy things like jumping into swimming pools in the middle of winter with your parents’ permission, and if you can swim.
Go to the movies. Go out with your friends. Have those moments in life where you laugh so hard like your sides hurt. Do that in Jesus. Enjoy your life. If you’re out of high school and you’re in your early 20s in college, do you do what God would love for you to do? Take joy and celebrate your life.
Love it. Enjoy it.
There’s something about after high school to early 20s where you have a freedom and flexibility that you may never again possess. Go on adventures. Travel around the world. Meet people from other cultures. Eat amazing food. Get an advanced degree. Try a new hobby. Try everything you can. Invest in it. Love it. Enjoy it. Enjoy your life. Celebrate
But all of you if you’re in kindergarten you’re in elementary school you’re in middle school you’re in high school you’re out of high school you’re in your early 20s, do you know what else God tells you to do in this passage? Enjoy all of life that way, but don’t disconnect or don’t unplug what you do from God because He’s there. God’s with you when you go to elementary school. God is with you in moments where you respond to your mom and dad. Elementary school kids and high school kids. He’s right there. When you’re in your early 20s and you start making choices on your own, guess what? Enjoy them all. But know God is going to hold you accountable.
And this isn’t painting the picture of God is some mean big judge sitting up there just waiting for you to make a mistake. This is actually the picture of a God who’s up above you are going enjoy everything I’ve given you. You’re My kid love elementary school. Do it all. But don’t pretend that I’m not there. Don’t section off parts of your life where you make choices that you know don’t please God and you kind of in your brain pretend like oh He doesn’t see me here. Wise young people you love your life, but you do it with your brain turned on. And when your brain turns on you know as part of your life God’s there. That’s how wise young people rejoice in their life.
I’m just going to be honest. #4 is more of a pastoral comment than flowing out of the text. OK. But I think I see it, so I’m just going to lay it out that way and you can take it that way.
#4: Wise old people aren’t party poopers. Stop pretending you weren’t young once. Older people here’s a thought for us. Wisdom can be realistic without being discouraging. I believe that Solomon does this really well.
He’s this old wise king and encourages young people to celebrate. He doesn’t altogether condemn youth; he condemns a misguided view of youth. I believe that there are young people and I’ve talked to them all over North Hills Church who are begging for older people to pour into their life.
And if you are the older person and you don’t have a younger person you’re pouring into step up. Go up to Alive. Go to the college ministry. Find someone in your Life Group. Step it up, old people. Let’s share our wisdom in such a way as to encourage the younger rather than discourage. And I got to give you two ways to help you become like Solomon to encourage to give real wisdom. Young people they really do need to hear what life’s like. Two ways to do that. #1: Don’t give wisdom just by telling people they’re young. It doesn’t work.
Don’t just throw back into their face their age. Oh, you’re just a teenager. You’re young; you’ll learn. You’ll learn; you’re young. Don’t do that. Do you know what you need to do? This is the second thing. Share your story of how you learned that wisdom. Because then you know what you have to do. You have to do what Solomon did. Yeah, I tried that. I tried that. Yes, I did that I did that. Do you know what I learned from that?
This wisdom. I guarantee you if I was a betting man I would put money on the fact that if a young person is sitting in front of you and you’re giving them wisdom out of hey I’ve walked that road more often than not if it’s out of your story they’re going to follow along. But if all you’re doing is you’re young you’ll get it someday, they’re going to check out. We have to tell the stories of how we earned our wisdom. We have to say things to our young kids like yes, I did tie a red wagon to the back of a go cart and had my friend drive it to see how fast we could go around a corner and find out if I could hold on. Hypothetically of course. And it didn’t work. They’re dying laughing you know. It’s ok if young people know our mistakes.
It’s OK if they know how we’ve blown it. If we look back and go listen man I was in my 20s. I know what the party’s like. You think you know. I know what the party is like. It’s not going to give you anything. You think it is. But I was there. I’ve walked through that. I made those mistakes. Will you go a different way? Does that make sense? I’m including myself as an old person, so if you’re older than I am don’t be offended that I just called you old and told you to step up in a mean voice I’m talking to me too. So, friends in Ecclesiastes chapter 11 labor daringly. We don’t have to know everything as much as that pains some of us. We don’t have to know everything in order to act. And we can celebrate soberly. Young people, love life, but love it knowing God is a part of it. Amen.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus the Great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant equip you with everything good that you may do His will working what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever and ever. Amen.