In my Sunday school class, I have been walking us through Ecclesiastes. If you know anything about this book, you will know that it is a somber, gloomy book. At least, on the surface level it is (but that is a post for another day). In the midst of Solomon’s vexations on the foolishness of the world, he continues to offer small “nuggets” of truth to offer encouragement. They serve as a means to navigate the harsh realities of life. It is his way of saying, “I know life can seem vain and rough, but do this to help find joy!” This past Sunday we read through chapter 9, and saw Solomon’s beautiful words to people who feel like they cannot control anything in life, and think all of life is vanity. He writes:
“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. 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. 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” (Ecc. 9:7-10).
Solomon essentially tells us to: “Eat, drink and be merry! Enjoy your spouse and do whatever you desire (within reason). There is nothing gained after death, so enjoy life while you can!” I cannot tell you how many times I have met someone who thinks being a Christian means being boring and not having fun. And, truth be told, many Christians also think this way. But the fact of the matter is that God has blessed each of us with various talents, passions, skills, and pleasures! It is not a sin to enjoy yourself, to own a second car, take another vacation, buy a bigger house, or go to a concert.
Solomon does not want us to go out and live foolishly and sin in the process. Rather, he is telling us, in the context of all Ecclesiastes, if we hold firm in our wisdom and faith, we can enjoy life all the more without having to fall into sin. Obviously we want to avoid our flesh’s desires if they are sinful, but if they are not sinful, Solomon encourages us to do them! He says, “God has already approved what you do.” We don’t have to ask God’s permission to have fun. It has already been given to us.
God wants us to enjoy ourselves, and use our enjoyment and passions for His glory and honor! Being a Christian does not mean we have to have a frown on our faces, and never partake in anything outside of Church and the Bible. Instead, being a Christian means loving God in all that we say and do, and using and enjoying the gifts He has given us. So go out this week and “eat your bread with joy.” Go home and “enjoy your wife whom you love.” We are all going to die one day and be united with Christ. But until that day comes, we ought to enjoy the things we have, and the God who gave them to us.