I’ve been reading Ecclesiastes lately. My passage for today is 11:7-10. A theme that runs through the book is that of living life to the fullest. One might say that the Sage is telling us to enjoy an abundant life.
Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless. Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 11:7–10, NLT)
Some interpreters like to interpret this stuff negatively, that is, that the Sage is saying to eat, drink, and be merry, but that he is giving us an example of what not to do. I’m not buying that interpretation. I prefer the positive interpretation, as exemplified here by Iain Provan in the NIV Application Commentary.
It is at this point that a particularly Christian repentance may well be necessary, for Christians have all too often managed to give the impression that our faith is about refusing to live a full life in the present so that we may inherit a better life in the future. We have thus seriously distorted the gospel, which is about love, joy, peace, and freedom, as much as it is about patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). We are not called to suspend earthly life in the hope of eternal life but rather to live out eternal life as earthly life, embracing the reality of the latter as firmly and as affirmingly as God did in becoming incarnate in Jesus.
Iain Provan, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 210.