Summary: We must have a zest for living life to the fullest
Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, September 2, 2001
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter
An Age of Nonsense: “When All Is Said and Done”
For the past four weeks we have explored the futility of man’s wisdom, the folly of accumulating wealth, the mundane pursuit of laboring “under the sun” and, as we approach the autumn of our lives, we discover that everything is beautiful in God’s time.
We now come to the epilogue in which Solomon leaves us with some parting thoughts. They are these: God instructs us to enjoy life to the fullest. Furthermore, we are to make the most of every opportunity that life has to offer. And finally, we are to show reverence and obedience to God all the days of our life.
And the first point is this: GOD INSTRUCTS US TO ENJOY LIFE TO THE FULLEST.
In 2:24 we read, “That there is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good for it is from the hand of God.” Likewise, in 3.12 it says, “ ... there is nothing better than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime ... for every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor – it is the gift of God.” In 3:22 are these words, “I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities for that is his lot.”
All total there are six references in Ecclesiastes, which speaks of enjoying life to the fullest [2:24; 3:12, 13; 3:22; 5:18, 19; 8:15; 9:7-9]. A person might think this is all rather elementary. You say that I am to enjoy life? Why, of course, I should enjoy life and I do. I do as I please and I please to do as I please. So please, just leave me alone. To this man he is worse than a fool. Could anyone have pursued pleasure, wealth, labor, wisdom, knowledge anymore than Solomon? He sought after these things zealously. He consumed all the pleasures that life has to offer and he still found himself wanting. He felt empty, alone and foolish [2.15]. He surmised that with much wisdom comes a greater portion of madness and folly. When a person becomes excessive and compulsive it overtakes him and consumes him for with increased wisdom there is much grief and with an abundance of knowledge there is great pain [1:18].
Solomon pleads with us not to be fooled by observing the wicked man. For though he may seem carefree, happy and full of laughter, at life’s end he will reap only judgment and destruction [3:17] for as it says,“ … who can eat and who can have enjoyment without God?” [2:25].
On the other hand, there is a common misconception among the unchurched that we Christians are just a bunch of prudes and “goody-too-shoes.” On Saturday Night Live Dana Carvey had a comic routine in which he portrayed the little old church lady. He’d purse his lips, put his hands on his hips, tilt his head slightly, do a quick step shuffle and say, “Isn’t that special!” His mannerisms brought laughter, but the message was real. We Christians have an image problem. The secular world stereotypes churchgoers as being condescending. I hope that’s not how you feel. More importantly, I hope this is not how you act!
As Christians we have no reason to boast. We do, however, have every reason to be humble, thankful, and merciful. For although we are saints, we did not earn our salvation. And although one day we shall wear a royal crown, we must never forget that we were conceived in sin. All of the benefits of this life and the life to come are to be attributed to God.
Think of enjoying life in these terms. Picture yourself being ushered into the theater of life where you are given a front row seat [preferably non-smoking]. The motion picture screen is larger than all outdoors. Your eyes gaze upon the panorama of all of creation. And with your senses you taste the fruits of God’s labor and He shares His handiwork with you: the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars. All the majestic beauty of heaven and earth are yours to enjoy. You see, God wants you to be His viewing audience. He even offers you refreshments at the concession stands along life’s highway. And what is the cost of admission? It is absolutely free!
Do you remember when you were a child at play? You couldn’t wait to be excused from the dinner table so you could run outside and play in the snow, jump rope, or play ball. When did we lose that youthful exuberance? When did we become so sophisticated that we could no longer appreciate the simpler things in life? When, in our adulthood, did we suppress the child within us? God desires nothing less than for His children to laugh, and to play and to enjoy all that life has to offer. And it grieves Him when He sees His children not living life to the fullest.