For most of the first half of Ecclesiastes, Solomon focused on what is meaningless in life. And now in the last part of Ecclesiastes 6, he essentially takes the part of the skeptic and says, “It’s all well and good to say that these things are meaningless. But if I can’t find good in all these things you talked about, how can I find good in anything in life? How does all you have said help me? Did God just create me to live a meaningless life then? If so, how can I possibly fight him? Is there any way to know that I lived a life worth living after I’ve gone? (Ecclesiastes 6:10-12)
And it is that challenge which Solomon addresses in the rest of Ecclesiastes. But it’s in the first four verses of chapter 7 that I think we find a big key in finding what’s good in life.
The day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. (7:1-4)
At first glance, this looks like pretty depressing advice. I can find what’s good by thinking of dying? That’s supposed to help me find what’s good? But what is Solomon trying to say?
Basically, he’s saying that if you want to find what’s good, we need to keep our life in perspective. Remember that life is short. That all of us are going to die someday. And if you can take that to heart, it will help you to remember what’s really important.
How often do we go to funerals of people we love, and think to ourselves about where our lives are going and what’s really important in life? It’s usually when we face death that we realize that it’s not things like money or things that are important in life. It’s the people we love that are important. It’s doing God’s will in our lives that’s important.
I don’t think that there is anyone who on their death bed say, “If only I had worked more overtime! If only I had spent more time going to parties! If only I had spent more time doing my hobbies.” Rather, if people have regrets in their lives, they say things like, “If only I had spent more time with my family. If only I hadn’t wasted so much time in my life. If only I had spent more time on the things that really matter.”
And yet, how much time do we waste on things that don’t matter?
How about you? If you were to die today, could you say that you invested your life in what truly matters? That your life counted for something? Or would you have to say that your life was a waste? It doesn’t have to be. But we need to keep perspective.
How’s your perspective?