Friday, March 10, 2017
The Vision (3.10.17): Living the Good Life
Note: Devotion based on last Sunday's sermon on Ecclesiastes 9:7-12.
Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works (Ecclesiastes (9:7).
The theme of this passage is living the good life. What does it mean to “live the good life”? I shudder to think of all the answers one might find from the world to that question, from people hawking diets, to get rich schemes, to religions promising to tell you how you can have your best life now.
The Biblical question should be: What does it mean to live a life that is pleasing to God and satisfying to man? Compare catechism question one: What is the chief end of man? Answer: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
The call to pursue and to enjoy the good life begins with a threefold exhortation (v. 7a). The three commands:
First: Go thy way: Go about the living of your life. Don’t overthink it, over-scrutinize it.
Second: Eat thy bread with joy: Go about doing the basic things necessary to sustain your life. That is represented by bread, but it is more than just food. Do what you need to live. And, do it with joy. We should note the difference between happiness (a worldly concept) and joy (a Biblical concept). Joy is deep satisfaction in God regardless of the outward circumstances.
Third: And drink thy wine with a merry heart: Pursue the things in life not only that will guarantee basic existence but also the things that will bring godly pleasure.
Psalm 104:15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.
Of course, this does not sanction drunkenness (cf. Eph 5:18: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess….”).
Biblical faith is not a “world-denying” faith in the sense that it does not deny the goodness of this world (despite the impact of sin) and the goodness of life in this world. Your life is to be lived with the good enjoyment of lawful pleasures!
The last statement in v. 7b might cause one’s brow to wrinkle: “for God now accepteth thy works.” What does this mean? Is he talking about works righteousness? Does this contradict justification by faith? To make that assumption is to misread this verse. The point, rather, in keeping with what has come before in Ecclesiastes (see 9:4-6), is that this is man’s one opportunity to live his earthly life (to present his works) before God. This is the Hebrew version of Carpe Diem, “Seize the day!” Again, we might cite the adage: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
May God grant us the wisdom to live the good life to God’s glory and to man’s blessing.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle