Timeless Truth for Young Believers: Choices and their Consequences

You are a free agent. You have a measure of independence. You are not wearing any GPS ankle bracelet that informs your parents or overseers where you go. There is no secret camera in your bedroom or hidden microphone near your lips. So what are you going to do? “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: BUT KNOW THOU, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment” (Eccl 11:9). Solomon is not giving you permission in this verse to live carelessly or indifferently. He does Acknowledge a Freedom of Choice, a freedom that is particularly available to youth. But, in light of this entire journal of life lessons, he Assumes a Fear of God in making these choices. Notice especially, though, Solomon Anticipates a Finding Out on a Day of Judgment. So make choices that stem from an integrity of character. Make choices that reflect a coming day of review.

It is interesting that in a book focusing on things under the sun, Solomon drives home the point that we are going to die, and after we die there is judgment. It reinforces the fact that Ecclesiastes is indeed written with insight from above the sun and is giving us wise advice on how to live a good life. And a truly good life is lived in the awareness that we will soon have to give account of ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.

So “it is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart … but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth” (Eccl 7:2, 4). You should go to funerals. Though laughter is healthy, you will profit more standing beside a casket than you will hanging out with friends having a good time. While at the funeral, lay it to heart. Let it be a reality check; let it put things in perspective; let it cause you to think about what is important. The fool is entertaining himself on the way to eternity, but life is no joke.

“For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl 12:14). Again, perfectly consistent with New Testament revelation, Solomon reminds us that every aspect of our life will be evaluated by the Lord. He reflects on a period of time that he lived recklessly and selfishly. He knows that he can’t do anything about the past and he is accountable to God for it. You can’t change the past either, but you can make good choices for the future. So as an old, wise believer who has learned the hard way, he appeals to you to adjust your course now. Make your choices in the fear of God, “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2Cor 5:10 ESV).