Remember God – While You Still Can.
“Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and no longer enjoy living.” – Ecclesiastes 12:1 NLT
It was George Bernard Shaw who said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” They have all the energy, enthusiasm, mental capacity, and vigor for life. They have years ahead of them to experience life in all its fullness. And for those of us whose hair is turning gray or simply turning loose, we find ourselves jealous of the young. We sometimes wish we were young again. Some of us spend way too much time trying to appear young in a vain attempt to hang on to something that is no longer there. Solomon seemed to hate the idea of getting older. It was a topic he discussed at length in his writings in Ecclesiastes. He knew his days were numbered. He was experiencing the effects of old age. His memory was not what it once was and he no longer had the energy he once had. He probably found himself exhausted, both mentally and physically, at the end of the day. And yet he probably found himself surrounded by young people. After all, he had 700 wives and 300 concubines, so there is no telling how many kids he had running around the palace.
So Solomon had a lot to say to young people. The Proverbs are full of messages to the young, and in the closing chapter of Ecclesiastes we read more admonitions and warnings from the pen of Solomon to youth. He writes from the perspective of one who has seen the years fly by and is now looking back in retrospect. He encourages the young to remember God while they can. Old age can bring diminished capacities of all kinds. Memory loss, decreased attention span, poor vision, and weakened strength are just a few of the things that young people have to look forward to. So while they are young, Solomon warns, they need to remember God. They need to use their energy, enthusiasm, strength, and mental capacity to think about the One who made them. “Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well” (Ecclesiastes 12:6 NLT). Solomon uses poetic language to portray the fragility of life and the inevitable end we all face.
But Solomon is not all doom and gloom. He encourages the young to enjoy life. To take advantage of the years they have ahead of them. “Young man, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. So banish grief and pain, but remember that youth, with a whole life before it, still faces the threat of meaninglessness” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 NLT). Solomon teaches balance. Enjoy life, but remember that all life ends in death. And none of us know when that time will come. Only God does. Youth is only wasted on the young if they refuse to live with wisdom and in the fear of God. That really seems to be Solomon’s point. The lessons of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes are really for the young. They have the time to put them into practice and make their lives count. These are the same messages we need to convey to the youth of our day. Sometimes we think they can’t handle it. We treat them as if they are too young and too immature to deal with deeper truth. But Solomon wanted to reach the young while they were young. He wanted them to make the most of their lives “under the sun.” He wanted them to enjoy their lives, but to do so with a certain degree of soberness and seriousness. He concludes his writings with the following thought: “Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NLT). Encouraging our young people to live their lives with God as the focus is the duty of us all. But we need to do more than talk about it. We need to model it. Life is to be enjoyed – with God at the center of it. Life is to be lived to the full – with God at the center of it. Life is to be rich and rewarding – with God at the center of it. Otherwise, if God is left out of the equation – life becomes meaningless.
Father, give me an increased desire to share these thoughts with the youth in my life – including my own kids. But more than anything else, help me to live out the truths found in this book in my own life. Show me how to model a life of wisdom and the fear of God. I want to increasingly make You the center of all that I do – so that my life has meaning. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men