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Enjoy Your Life Now

Our lives are a gift from God.
This sermon is part of the sermon series "The Most Relevant Book of the Bible: Ecclesiastes". See series.


Age is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in our society because more and more Americans are living longer and longer. 10,000 Americans turn 65 every single day. Men who live to the age of 65 have a very good chance of living to at least 83. There were 5.5 million Americans who were 85 and older in 2010 but that number will go up to 6.6 million by 2020. AARP is a significant force on the American political front and will only grown in power as more Americans age. Clearly, we are living longer and have better health and medical care than did our parents and grandparents. But living longer with more and more benefits does not necessarily equate to living better, does it?

Why do some people seem to age well and others do not? Why are some 70 year olds more of joy to be around than some 30 year olds? Are there any guidelines to living wisely and living well as we age? I don't think there are any guarantees; life just isn't like that. Sometimes things like bad health or significant losses come our way and those can be either physically or emotionally crippling and make aging a very difficult and painful process. But given that most of us will probably live a long time in fairly good health means we need to listen to someone who can help us out.

I think at the end of Ecclesiastes, as Solomon has surveyed the nature of life over his many years, he gives us some guidelines that can point us in the right direction. In this section that we're going to look at, he's telling us that God has sent us four text messages that we would be wise to pay attention too.

(Read Ecc. 11:7-10)

Text # 1: Enjoy your life now

In these verses Solomon provides a contrast between light and darkness, between youth and maturity, between following your heart and the necessity of being wise. But his emphasis here is on the fact that everything is fleeting; he says that in verse eight and then repeats it in verse 10. We simply cannot hold on to the experiences of life—even when they're great—because they're temporal; they're so transitory.

About 20 years ago Becky, Mike, and I were at Disney World when he was 9. The night we got there, Becky and I were talking about our game plan for the next three days—which day we'd go to the Magic Kingdom and which day we'd go to Epcot and which day we'd go to Sea World and suddenly Mike said, '"Guys, guys, don't talk about that or it will go too fast." Four nights later as we were packing up to leave the next morning Mike said, with tears in his eyes, "It went so fast!" He was absolutely right. Given that our lives are so fleeting, that they seem to go by so fast—that they are like chasing the wind—let's do exactly what Solomon says: let's enjoy life now.

Five times in the book of Ecclesiastes, he says "there's nothing better to eat and drink and enjoy your work and the wife of your youth"—he is so right! I think one big temptation that people face as they age is to live in the past when they held that job or they filled that position or they made that amount of money. Solomon comes to us and says—with the wisdom of age: Don't focus on the past but enjoy your life today because it is going to go by really fast—it is fleeting.

I have two questions for you whether you're 14, 40 or 74: What's one thing you really enjoy? Can you participate in that this week? Text message number one to aging well is to rejoice in your life now.

(Read Ecc. 12:1; 12:6)

Text # 2: Remember that God is the giver of life

Remember. Solomon uses the word twice to consciously allow God to shape your perspective on life in the present. It's the idea of putting God at the center of life and viewing life through that lens because he is the author of life and sustainer of life. The life he provides is a gift. We didn't earn it, buy it, or achieve it. It's a gift—it's something we receive—from the Lord who gave it to us.

A couple of years back Melanie and I attended a dinner with Paul & Marge Lewan; he's in his early 80s and she's in her mid-70s. They kept talking about how God had blessed them and led in their lives. They told us about the students they've mentored and employed, they talked about the two churches in Denver they've been part of. They talked about how God had blessed their family. Mark told me later that he's been in their home and they live way below their means so they can give more money away. This man came into a class that I team taught recently and the guys in the class—all pastors and para-church ministry leaders—loved him.

I told Melanie I want us to be like them; I want to be on their team; as I age, I want to have a heart like theirs, an interest in younger people like theirs, a commitment to each other and to Christ like theirs. They exemplify enjoying life because they know it's a gift from God who they have placed at the center of their lives. Solomon tells us in the verses that we should enjoy our lives now because they are a gift from God. But he doesn't stop there.

(Read Ecc. 12:1-7)

Text # 3: Our lives are temporary

In these verses Solomon gives a description of the aging process—especially in the latter stages of life. There's a reference here to the natural objects of life growing dim—our eyesight begins to fade. There's the reference here to the songs of birds growing faint—our hearing begins to go. There's the statement about desire no longer being stirred—a reference to impotence in an age without Cialis and Viagra. Then there's the statement about death; people returning to their eternal home—our bodies return to the dust and our spirits go back to our creator. Friends, Solomon is telling us to enjoy our lives now.

Carpe Diem—seize the day because they are a gift from God. But we need to remember that they are temporary—they will come to an end! This admonition is very personal to me; I was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. My life here will end eventually. Our lives are a gift of God and they should be enjoyed but we need to remember that they're temporary.

(Read Ecc. 12:13-14)

Text # 4: We are accountable

One of the interesting things about that section on aging is that Solomon borrows some language from the Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, Amos, and Zechariah, as they describe the end times—or what the Bible calls the end of the present age. Solomon makes it crystal clear in verses 13-14 that we are accountable to God for how we lived our lives. Some people have tried to argue that the book of Ecclesiastes shouldn't be in the Bible because it seems to teach, at least in some places, that nothing matters, that all is vanity, that there's nothing of value under the sun. Solomon makes those statements because sometimes that's what life looks like and feels like. But as we've seen, in the end, he always takes us back to God.

He ends his book with an emphasis on accountability—not because nothing matters—but because everything matters. How we spend our time. How we manage our relationships with our kids and grandkids. How we treat our wives. How we do our jobs. What we do with our money. Whether or not we love people and love God.

We're to enjoy our lives now because they are the gift of God but they are temporary and we are accountable because everything in our lives matters. Given that reality, how can we live well and age well?

Let's continue to grow

As we age it's pretty easy to seek comfort rather than growth. But all living organisms require some disequilibrium if they are to grow; that means we have to work at it! Let me encourage you, and me, to grow spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.

When he was 94 Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was talking with FDR and told him he had been reading the ancient Greek philosopher Plato every day. FDR asked, "Why would you do that?" Holmes replied, "To grow in my knowledge of that great man."

Let's accept the fact that the vast majority of us will be quickly forgotten by succeeding generations and that's ok—God is the one who will provide a legacy for us if we've "remembered him." So, as we age, let's give our time and energy and maybe even some of our money to promote the success of younger men and women; let's focus on growing them. Let's be quick to give them praise even if we do not understand what they're trying to accomplish. Let's be quick to give them help if they ask for it. While we have the time, let's give our resources to meet needs, build the church, feed the poor, and advance the gospel in order to help ourselves and others grow!

(Read Matthew 13:24-30)


In Matthew 13 Jesus tells one of the most powerful and fascinating stories of his entire ministry. It's a fitting story for us as we think through how to live our lives in a way that helps us age well and please God.

Jesus is describing what's happening right now in our culture and what will take place throughout the rest of this year and on thru to the very end of human history. He says, "Let there be no doubt. Wheat and weeds are growing together side by side in your neighborhoods, your schools, your communities, your country and in every nation all around the world." But in this story he tells his followers—people like you and me—not to worry about pulling up the weeds; he'll take care of that later—at the end of the age.

What Jesus tells his followers to do is to go plant some seed and go and grow some wheat. Friends, we don't know for sure but most likely we are all going to live a long time. So let's remember and act on these text messages from God. Our lives—however long they go—are a gift of God and we should enjoy them but they are temporary and we are accountable.

Let's do what Jesus says—let's go and grow some wheat. Let's serve him and give to others and have a boatload of fun along the way. Then at the end, that great Day of Judgment, he'll say to us, "Well done, my good and faithful servants—enter for all eternity into the joy of your master."

Scott Wenig is associate professor of applied theology at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado, and author of Straightening the Altars.

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Sermon Outline:


I. Text#1: Enjoy your life now

II. Text #2: Remember that God is the giver of life

III. Text #3: Our lives are temporary

IV. Text #4: We are accountable

V. Let's continue to grow