Have you ever asked yourself the question, “What would you do if you knew you only had one year to live?” Now I know that the knowledge of impending death would change the way that I live now. I know it would change my how I spent my time and how I treated people. I know that I would want to make the most of every opportunity! So how would it change your life for the days you had to live?
I know that if I was in that situation I would go through a whole range of emotions. I am sure that my emotion would range from one extreme to another. Yet, I think that I would land were most people would land, not feeling sorry for myself, but making the most of each day. A big emphasis of mine would be spending time with the people I love and especially talking to those that do not yet know Jesus, especially those close to me.
It is interesting that in Ecclesiastes 9 King Solomon encourages this kind of response. Last week, as we looked at verses 1-3 for Easter , our focus was on the fact that only God controls when a person dies and that He has numbered our days. The point was that embracing the reality of our own death and coming to terms with God’s grace, available to us through embracing Jesus, is the first step in truly beginning to live. This week I developed Solomon’s focus on 4 intentional ways to live in light of the reality of our death. I deal with this passage in greater detail in the message Choosing to Intentionally Live.
First, Solomon challenges us to Choose to Live Each Day! He writes, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7) The metaphor here reminds us to enjoy the common things of life. I like how we are to come to these “with a merry heart” not gain a merry heart from them. It is a reminder to take time to enjoy the journey. We like a culture that is living for the weekend. It could be for some a weekend event, or for others is could be that killer vacation months away. Yet in each case we miss the blessing that God has provided along the way.
Second, we are challenged to Choose to Celebrate Each Day. Again this is similar to the first, but I believe it focuses on our initial intention as we start each day. He writes, “Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.” (Ecclesiastes 9:8) He is speaking of treating each day like we do special events with the special people in our lives. The white clothing would be their “dress up clothes” and the “oil” in the Bible is associated with God’s blessing in gladness would be the same as taking a bath, and putting on cologne or perfume. It speaks of the mindset of getting spiffed up for each day. Yet how often do we allow the thoughts in our minds to draw us down and again miss the blessing of life itself!
Third, we are challenged to Choose Love Each Day. Now Solomon focuses on the most important relationship in most people’s lives but it could also be applied to other relationships. He writes, “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.”( Ecclesiastes 9:9) Why is it that the most valuable relationships in our lives are often the source of the greatest frustration? I believe part of the reason is that we fail to value them as special. Solomon encourages us to be intentional about making that relationship work so that it can be enjoyed.
And last, He reminds us to Choose to Serve Each Day. He writes, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) When I asked you the question of what you would do if you knew that your death was imminent I’m sure that you thought of things that you would change. You would focus on things that really count or the “do it with your might” kind of things. And one of the best areas would be helping others to know and grow in Jesus!
I realize that having a year to live is different that living a lifetime. Yet there are things that you could change today because of your knowledge of death. It is then that you will really begin to live! What are you waiting for?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson