The Dancing Puritan

Monday, June 10, 2013

Eat, Drink and Rejoice

Write the year of your birth on the left side of a sheet of paper.  Add 75-85 years to your birth year and put that number on the right side of the paper.  Connect the two dates with a line. The line is your life. Write your present age on the line and subtract that number from your potential death date.

Perhaps you now have some context for the brevity of life.  The Bible says that life is a vapor.  It is fleeting. Solomon calls the span of a persons life, the few days of his life that God has given him (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

I was born in 1961. If I live the average length of life then somewhere around 2038 would be my death.  That gives me 25 years.  Of course that could be shortened significantly or lengthened a little bit.

25 years!  Without falling into a sea of regret over the time that has past, what should the next 25 years look like for me?  What should the remaining days of your life look like?  Since all of life is considered as but a few days--what should we consider the last few years of one's life? Minutes?

What, then, should the last few minutes of my life look like?  What about yours?

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.  Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil--this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart. Ecclesiastes 6:18-20

According to Solomon, the remaining minutes of my life should be spent eating, drinking and finding enjoyment in my work. As the seconds tick away each tick of the clock should represent another moment of joy. If Solomon is right then I am to occupy my life with joy. In other words--God has given the gifts of life, food, drink, joy and I am to receive his gifts with a glad heart.

Jesus weighed in on this subject.

And he told them a parable, saying, 'The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God'  Luke 12:16-20.

Did Jesus and Solomon disagree with one another?

The key is found in two differing attitudes and perspectives.  In the parable of Luke 12 the rich man is self-focused.  Notice all of the usages of I. He is totally self-centered and views his grain and his goods as something that he independently produced and that he has independent control over. He is totally uninterested in God.

The passage in Ecclesiastes is about acknowledging and receiving gifts from God.  The way to bring God glory is to receive his gifts--and enjoy them.

In the past year I have been convicted. Over the years I have received a number of gifts from my wife and children that I did not enjoy. The most painful memory, in this regard, is of one of my daughters giving me a game.  She begged me to play the game with her. I was tired and put it aside. The days turned into weeks and eventually I misplaced the game. It is difficult for me to think back on that event.  Why did I not receive the gift with joy and stay up all night (if necessary) to spend time with my daughter playing the game?

God gives good gifts to his children. Sometimes we idolize the gifts and think only about them in a self-centered way.  Other times we discard his gifts. We often miss the purpose in the gifts. God's good gifts to us are to be received and enjoyed. When we receive and enjoy his gifts then we bring glory to him as the giver of every good gift.

Your birthday is past. Your death day is just minutes away. What will you do with the remaining seconds that are ticking away?