Summary: Remember your Creator--the sooner the better, but better late than never.
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This week I watched an old Charlie Chaplin film called Modern Times. In the film, Chaplin’s character struggles to find success and happiness in the modern, industrialized world. Chaplin composed the film’s musical score. The romance theme was later given lyrics (based on the movie’s story) and became the popular song “Smile.” (You may remember it being sung at Michael Jackson’s memorial service by his older brother Jermaine.)
Smile, though your heart is aching;
Smile, even though it’s breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by.
If you smile through your fear and sorrow,
Smile and maybe tomorrow,
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you.
Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near,
That’s the time you must keep on trying.
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile,
If you’ll just smile.
To me, “Smile” is a sad song. It tells us to smile, but it doesn’t give us a reason to smile.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher repeatedly tells us that life under the sun is “vanity.” It is frustrating, fleeting, and fragile. Is there a reason to smile?
In today’s passage, God is presented as our Creator. He made us, but we fell into sin. Sin brought death and condemnation. But God wants to re-make us. He provided a way of salvation. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for our sins. Through faith in Him there is eternal life. There is hope. There is a reason to smile.
So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity (11:8).
Rejoice, 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 (11:9).
“It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
• Rejoice in your YEARS, but remember that DEATH is coming.
• Rejoice in your YOUTH, but remember that JUDGMENT is coming.
“Love God and do as you please.”—Augustine
Young Christians are faced with many important decisions, such as where to go to university, what profession to pursue, and whom to marry. They often worry that their decisions might not be in accordance with God’s will. They wish that there was a Bible verse that would show them exactly what to do. But there isn’t a verse that says, “The girl you should marry is Jennifer.”
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When you delight yourself in the Lord, His desires become your desires. So this means that we can do as Augustine said: “Love God and do as your please.”
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them” (12:1).
What does it mean to “remember” your Creator. Obviously it means more than to simply think about Him. I believe the Preacher is telling us to live a God-centered life—a life that gives priority to eternal values, not passing pleasures.
• You can never remember your Creator too SOON.
“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.”—William Shakespeare, Richard II
Some people say, “Age is nothing but a number.” But if you live long enough, eventually you will feel the effects of old age. In verses 3-6, the Preacher lists several of these effects. It is best to remember God at an early age and give our most productive days to Him—before “the days of trouble” (NIV) come and we can’t do what we used to do.
• But you can remember your Creator too LATE.
After Adam and Eve committed the first sin, God said to them, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). The Preacher urges us to remember our Creator before “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (v. 7).
The apostle Paul writes, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). As Christians, we can smile because there is hope through faith in Jesus Christ. Our bodies are aging, but our spirits can be renewed each day.
People can forget about their Creator for many different reasons.