Have you taken the time to digest the message of the book of Ecclesiastes? It is fascinating. It basically shows the folly of approaching life under the sun without God in the picture.
Let us focus our attention on three consecutive verses in that book, Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1:
(9) 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 in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. (10) Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity. (1) Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’
There are practical principles in those statements which can be of great assistance to young folks who take them to heart. We will not debate the difference between “youth,” “young people,” and “young adults.” Those terms can vary from culture to culture and from one segment of society to another. As we write about “young people,” we are not speaking of small kids, pre-teens, or people in their 40’s, okay?
Know this, young people. Your choices at this stage of your life, coupled with your current attitude, will shape your character for life. How you think now and what you do now is important for your future. We want to highlight three ideas found in our Ecclesiastes text. Yes, older folks need to learn these lessons, too!
Rejoice (11:9). The Bible says for a young man to rejoice in his youth. If you live long enough, you will face difficult days (12:1), so enjoy life now!
Rejoice in your accomplishments. Rejoice in your plans/hopes for the future. Rejoice in your health. Rejoice in your energy . . . you will not maintain a high level of energy forever. You know that, correct?
Rejoice in your fun time, as the text says to walk in the ways of your heart (11:9). All of us must distinguish between play time and serious time. When it comes to fun activities, learn the difference in God’s sight between appropriate fun and wrong fun. There are activities that God’s people should embrace, but we need to abstain from others (Romans 12:9). Sin brings pleasure (Hebrews 11:25), so do not make your level of enjoyment in doing something the criteria you use in judging whether it is wholesome or not.
Rejoice in your blessings. Rejoice in your opportunities. Rejoice in your relationships. Rejoice in knowing what really matters is to fear God and keep His command (12:13). If you are His child,
rejoice in knowing that you have learned and obeyed the truth, because this prepares you for judgment (11:9; 12:14).
Remove (11:10). “Therefore remove sorrow from your heart.” Why? Because sorrow prevents the heart from rejoicing. The idea is not that it always is wrong to sorrow, as there is a time to weep and mourn (3:4). We are supposed to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15), right? And, having sincere, godly sorrow for our sins against God is a good thing (2 Corinthians 7:10).
But, do not allow the disappointments which you experience in life to ruin your joy of being young, and you certainly do not want things which bring you mental discomfort to rob you of your joy in serving the Lord (Philippians 4:4). At the same time, none of us, at any age, should be filled with regret for being committed to God and in the process “missing out” on ungodly stuff which other people do.
In addition to sorrow, the message of Ecclesiastes 11:10 is to remove/put away “evil from the flesh.” The Bible speaks of “youthful lusts” from which God’s servants need to flee (2 Timothy 2:22). Fleshly lusts war against the soul, so our Lord calls on His children to abstain from them (1 Peter 2:11). Whether it is removing sorrow or evil desires, your parents cannot do it for you. It is up to you to do that for yourself, our dear young folks.
Remember (12:1). Remember whom? The great Creator of the universe. Remember Him when? In the days of youth. Do not let the devil and worldly-minded people tell you that this is an unreasonable expectation. Joseph remembered Jehovah when he still was a young man. So did the prophet Daniel. Timothy did also. If all of them did it, so can you!
“I still have a lot of time left in my life, so no need to hurry.” No, you do not have a guarantee of a long life. You do not even have a guarantee of tomorrow! (Proverbs 27:1). We personally have known dedicated servants of the Lord who did not live to celebrate their twentieth birthday. Life is so unpredictable. Serve the Lord now, regardless of your age!
To “remember” God means more than saying, “Oh, yeah, God exists.” Do not forget Him. At all times, keep in mind how good He is, how much He has blessed you, and how He wants you to live . . . then do it! Young folks often have big plans. Make sure that God is the center of them! (Matthew 6:33). If you will remember God now, the odds are a lot higher that you will serve Him faithfully in later years.
Rejoice. Remove. Remember. May God bless you as your embrace and apply those ideas to your life.
— Roger D. Campbell