9Rejoice, 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. 10Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.
(Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 ESV)
Considering all the turmoil going on in the world, which King Solomon has recognized in all the preceding passages, the best time to enjoy life is when we are young. In our youth we are more able to rejoice because we are less encumbered by life’s troubles.
That does not mean, however, that it is appropriate for us to do whatever our heart wants and our eyes see. Not all behavior is beneficial to us, even if it is pleasurable. Instead we should live with a godly caution, knowing that God will judge all the things we do and say during our lifetime.
All too often people think that God doesn’t want us to be happy; that He is interested in keeping us in a constant state of misery. But these verses prove that isn’t true. He wants us to be happy. But not so happy that we lose sight of the dangers in this world.
We’ve all had times in life we were giddy over a new direction our life was taking. Maybe it was a new relationship, or marriage. Or a new job. Or going to college. But when we are overly excited we tend to lose direction for lack of foresight of the things that can go wrong. This is why relationships end on a sour note. This is why marriages end in divorce. It’s great to be happy and enjoy life. But we must remain constantly vigilant against life’s pit falls.
Young people don’t realize this. Every day for them is a new experience. And they impulsively charge ahead in life, understandably, excited about their futures only to learn the hard way that life isn’t always a bed of roses. God warns us about this in today’s verse. Not everything in life is good for us, even if it seems so.
On the other hand, God doesn’t want us to be mired in a constant state of depression and misery. He commands us to remove vexation from our heart and to put away pain from our body. God knows that the unfairness of life can lead to emotional and physical pain. He does not want that for us. But, this verse seems to be warning us against self-inflicted future pain.
Considering our fleeting youth and the fact that our lives will be judged, we should act in such a way now so as to avoid painful consequences in the future. We can avoid troubles tomorrow by making wise choices today. Young people don’t often think this way. They live for today, not thinking about the consequences of their actions.
Youth and the dawn of life soon pass away. We are young for only a short time. It’s better, therefore, to think long-term. We’ll spend more time on this earth as adults than we will as children. But more than that, we’ll spend more time in eternity than we’ll spend on this earth. Eternity is the only permanent thing about our existence.
The best way to go through life is with just enough awareness of the evil that exists in this world so we can avoid it but not to be so concerned with such things that they rob us of our joy.
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