Enjoying Life Under the Sun
None of us, of course, are guaranteed to know the date of our death. But we know something just as certain: unless Christ returns first, that day will come. Until then, Scripture says, we will inhabit a creation that is subject to futility, with evil around us, sin within us, and chaos seeming to prevail more often than not. We will see the wicked prosper and the godly struggle. These truths are poignantly expressed in the words of the Preacher of Ecclesiastes: “There is a vanity that takes place on earth.”
By itself, that observation could send us into a spiral of sorrow, sullenness, and despair. But the writer of Ecclesiastes does not leave us there. Instead, he makes a rather surprising recommendation: “I commend joy … to eat and drink and be joyful.” Observation: life is unmanageable. Recommendation: enjoy life’s simple pleasures!
How can anyone know genuine enjoyment of such pleasures when life is futile and unjust and comes with an expiration date? This is something that is only possible for those who know the truth. We can freely and guiltlessly enjoy the pleasures God gives because we know God; indeed, it honors the Giver of such gifts to enjoy what He gives. The apostle Paul describes God as the one “who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). The fact that simple pleasures offer no ultimate satisfaction does not mean they offer no satisfaction. It is knowing that there is life beyond the sun that frees us to enjoy our life “under the sun.” As the hymn writer puts it:
Heav’n above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green;
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen.
When was the last time you asked someone, “Are you enjoying yourself?” When did you last ask yourself that question? It is a good, Christian thing to ask! We know both that the world is broken and that every good gift comes from God. So honor Him by enjoying your next cup of coffee, your next day with your spouse, your next day at work, the next thing that makes you smile, as a gift from Him. He’s given these blessings to you for your God-honoring enjoyment, so that you can say with the psalmist, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
6But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7for we brought nothing into the world, and3 we cannot take anything out of the world. 8But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
17As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
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