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“We Are Young”

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A team of researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education asked 10,000 middle and high school students the following question: "What is most important to you? Achieving at a high level, happiness (defined as feeling good most of the time) or caring for others?" 48 percent of students selected high achievement as their top priority; 30 percent chose happiness. Only 22 percent placed caring for others at the top of their list.
The researchers said, "Some youth made it quite clear to us that their self-interest is paramount: 'If you are not happy, life is nothing. After that, you want to do well. And after that, expend any excess energy on others.'"
Their research report was appropriately titled, "THE CHILDREN WE MEAN TO RAISE: The Real Messages Adults Are Sending About Values," and the first line of their Executive Summary stated, "Our youth's values appear to be awry, and the messages that adults are sending may be at the heart of the problem."
What is the world telling our young people today? Be happy, do well, then give the excess to others. No excess, never satisfied. Set aside just parents today…there is more reach, more outreach, more messages, ideologies, more worldly philosophy, more ungodly values reaching our young people than ever before by the whole world. The exponential change in technology is allowing a greater reach with greater amounts of information on a global scale. Sure there are tons of immoral, evil, unkind, unloving, perverted, diabolical, deceptive, violent, hateful, demeaning messages that we need to protect our young people from. However, did you know that there are lots of “positive” messages that we get today that we also need to protect our children from. Nothing wrong with happiness, doing well and helping others. But are we fulfilling the law by just loving others?
We see that we need to be aware of a very very important distinction. We here in the church… we do a great job teaching our children how to tell the difference between right and wrong. What is destroying our children today is the inability to tell the difference between right and almost right. We want to raise, well behaved, polite, respectful, successful, healthy, generous, truthful, patient, well off, great husbands and wives, great parents, faithful, loyal, honest, self-sacrificial, and loving. Many in society today and even in the church will look at people like this and think what a wonderful amazing person they are their parents must be proud. But here is the kicker… this is almost right. A person who has all of these character traits, yet has no faith in Christ is going to hell. A life with all of these traits minus Christ ends in hell.
Everything thing in this life apart from Christ is utter meaninglessness. This is why suicide rates are going up. This is why drug use is going up. This is why hopelessness is going up. This is why discouragement and apathy is going up. And they lived happily ever after is a lie. You can be anything you want to be is not true. You can do anything you put your mind to is a fallacy. Have faith in yourself? Why I’m the worse person I know. Just follow your heart. The heart is deceitful above all things. Make your dreams come true. The only reality I know are my nightmares. God helps those who help themselves… uh which God is that? So you see… The message of hope from the world today brings no hope. The message from the world for a better life today, brings no life. The scriptures declare… Life without Christ is meaningless.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The gospel essentially declares, “the unredeemed life is no life at all.”
Ecclesiastes 12:1–7 NLT
Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky. Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly. Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint. Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire. Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral. Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever.
Remember the Creator
Now Not Later
He Remembers You
The first thing we will look at today is how a full Christ-centered life brings a lifetime of glory to the King of kings. The second thing to witness is the beauty of a life that knows and is known by Christ before it comes to the end of its day. Finally, we will see that our hope does not rest in our ability to remember Christ, but in the fact that He remembers us.
Thesis: Though sin and the pattern of this world cause us to fall into hopelessness because of a message of hope that has no hope, it is the truth of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit that will lead us to the way the truth and the life.
I. Remember the Creator
- This is a call to remembrance.
A. I think this here is an interesting observation. Solomon’s instruction here is aimed mainly for young people, but I wonder if the people who will truly understand these words are older.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 NLT
Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”
The Preacher’s last instruction is mainly for young people, although maybe the people who understand it the best are older.
B. Here Qoheleth is calling us to live a God-centered life. Easy exhortation… Make the God who made the universe our first and highest priority. This is the key to all the other things that he has called us to do in this passage. This is a call to remember the Lord.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 268). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
The best remedy for any pain or vexation is to cast our care upon the God who made us and knows all about us.
C. To remember God is to live our whole lives for him. To remember God is to have our hearts and minds consumed with Him. To remember God is to devote every breath to the glorification of our King. To remember God is to be mindful of God in every circumstance. To remember Christ is to have him direct all our plans, praising him for all his blessings, and praying to him through all our troubles.
Here Qoheleth is calling us to live a God-centered life, making the God who made the universe our first and highest priority. In fact, this is the key to all the other things that he has called us to do in this passage. The reason we are able to rejoice in our long years of life or else in our youth and strength is because every day is a gift from our Creator God.
- Such remembrance, writes Derek Kidner, is “no perfunctory or purely mental act; it is to drop our pretense of self-sufficiency and commit ourselves to Him.”
D. So the grand point of Solomon is that the best time in life to do this is when we are still young and have enough to give an entire lifetime to God. A whole lifetime of service to God. The encouragement is...do not wait until you are so old that you do not have much desire or strength to do anything. The encouragement is…give your life to Christ now, while you still have enough passion and strength to make a difference.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 268). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 268). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
The best time in life to do this is when we are still young enough to give a whole lifetime to God’s service. Do not wait until you are so old that you do not have much desire to do anything because life has lost its pleasure. Rather, give your life to God now, while you still have enough passion to make a difference in the world. Remember God when at home and at school. Remember him when outside in his creation or indoors in the kitchen or the bedroom. Remember him at work and at play—playing baseball or playing the violin. Do not forget about God, but remember him in everything you do.
E. Remember Christ when at home and at school with your friends acting the fool. Remember him when outside with all those activities or indoors in the kitchen, in front of the TV, or in the bedroom. Remember him at work and at play—playing basketball, skiing, video games, singing or playing the guitar. Do not forget about Christ, but remember him in everything you do. Meaning... do not for get about Christ.
F. And now a beautiful poem intended for the young, but will be best understood by the old.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 269). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Ecclesiastes 12:2–5 ESV
before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—
G. Verse 2 compares the troubles of old age to dimming sight and to a gathering storm. Both night and day are darkened by clouds, and after the rain falls, the storm clouds gather again. This is what happens as people grow older. When we are young, there is still time for the sky to clear, but when we are old, we suffer one trouble after another, with little or no time to recover. The light of life grows dim. Sight is dimming and the days of our lives darken.
H. Verses 3-5 the metaphor is a house that is beginning to crumble. “The keepers of the house” are a person’s arms, which start to tremble. “The strong men” are legs, which are bent with age. “The grinders” are teeth, of course. “The windows” are eyes dimmed by cataracts or a general loss of vision. “The doors” are ears that are deaf or hard of hearing and thus closed to the hustle and bustle of a noisy street. “The daughters of song” are vocal cords that no longer have the elastic strength to make sweet music. Since almond trees are pale in the springtime, the phrase “the almond tree blossoms” indicates that someone’s hair has turned white with age.
“The daughters of song” are vocal cords that no longer have the elastic strength to make sweet music. Since almond trees are pale in the springtime, the phrase “the almond tree blossoms” indicates that someone’s hair has turned white with age.
Verses 3–5 compare an elderly person to a house that is slowly crumbling with decay. “The keepers of the house” are a person’s arms, which start to tremble. “The strong men” are legs, which are bent with age. “The grinders” are teeth, of course, if any are left. “The windows” are eyes dimmed by cataracts or a general loss of vision. “The doors” are ears that are deaf or hard of hearing and thus closed to the hustle and bustle of a noisy street.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (pp. 269–270). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 270). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
I. These are not the only problems that come with age. According to verse 4, older people have trouble sleeping; they are up with the first songbirds, before dawn. According to verse 5, they are afraid—afraid of falling or of being attacked along the road. They suffer from diminished desire, which may include sexual desire but is not limited to that. I think of old Barzillai’s lament when King David invited him to the royal palace in Jerusalem:
Nor are these the only problems that come with growing old. According to verse 4, old people have trouble sleeping; they are up with the first songbirds, before dawn. According to verse 5, they are afraid—afraid of falling or of being attacked along the road. They suffer from diminished desire, which may include sexual desire but is not limited to that. One thinks of old Barzillai’s lament when King David invited him to the royal palace in Jerusalem: “I am this day eighty years old. Can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women?” ().
2 Samuel 19:35 ESV
I am this day eighty years old. Can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king?
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 270). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
J. Then one day the crumbling old house will fall. The Preacher enlightens us the image of the grasshopper in verse 5. Typically grasshoppers spring up in the air. So when a grasshopper drags itself along the ground its a goner.
Then one day the crumbling old house will collapse. The Preacher prepares us for this with the image of the grasshopper in verse 5. Typically grasshoppers spring up in the air. So a grasshopper stiffly scraping itself along the ground is a goner. Yet the same fate awaits us all—not just the diminishment of old age but the dust of death. This too is a reason to remember our Creator while we are still young: “because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” ().
K. Yet we all are being warned here… the same fate awaits us all—not just the diminishment of old age but the dust of death. This too is a reason to remember our Creator while we are still young:
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 270). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Ecclesiastes 12:5–7 ESV
they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
L. What vivid descriptions of death. To die is to go to our eternal home. We will not live here forever. Today we are young and strong, but already we are getting older, and tomorrow the mourners will carry our bodies out for burial.
M. Death is like the snapping of a silver cord and the shattering of a golden bowl. This may refer to a golden lamp suspended by a silver chain (in which case the light of life has been snuffed out). But in any case something precious and beautiful is broken.
These are all memorable descriptions of death. To die is to go to our eternal home. We will not live here forever. Today we are young and strong, but already we are getting older, and tomorrow the mourners will carry our bodies out for burial.
Death is like the snapping of a silver cord and the shattering of a golden bowl. This may refer to a golden lamp suspended by a silver chain (in which case the light of life has been snuffed out). But in any case something precious and beautiful is broken. To change the metaphor, death is like a wheel broken and a jar shattered at a well for drawing water. The apparatus is destroyed beyond repair, and thus it is useless for drawing any life-giving water.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 270). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
N. What else can we say about death? To die is to return to the dust—the curse that God pronounced on Adam and all our sin (see ). This is the same curse that Jesus suffered on the cross, for in the psalm of the God-forsaken servant we hear him say to his Father, “you lay me in the dust of death” (). We too are made of dust (; ), and to the dust we shall return. One day our bodies will go into the ground, and our souls will return to their Maker as death separates body from soul. The call of the Preacher is to remember our Creator now, before all of these things happen to us.
M. These are the sober realities of life and death that everyone has to face in a fallen world. The call of the Preacher is to remember our Creator now, before all of these things happen to us.
These are the sober realities of life and death that everyone has to face in a fallen world. The call of the Preacher is to remember our Creator now, before all of these things happen to us.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 271). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
II. Now Not Later
- “Many have remembered too late—none too soon.”
A. Getting to know our Creator before we grow old and die is the most important thing we can ever do.
“Many have remembered too late—none too soon.”
B. This call is especially for young people. Remember God now, while you still have your strength. Remember God now, while you are still charting your course in life and making important decisions about what to do with your talents. Remember your Creator now, before you forget the God who made you and make a lot of bad decisions that you will regret later. Remember God now, while you still have a whole lifetime to live for his glory. As Charles Bridges once said, “Many have remembered too late—none too soon.”
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 271). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 269). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 271). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
This call is especially for young people. Remember God now, while you still have your wits about you. Remember God now, while you are still charting your course in life and making important decisions about what to do with your talents. Remember your Creator now, before you forget the God who made you and make a lot of bad decisions that you will regret later. Remember God now, while you still have a whole lifetime to live for his glory. As Charles Bridges once said, “Many have remembered too late—none too soon.”
C. This passage is not just for young people, however. It is also for people who are growing old. Admittedly, taken by itself, the Preacher’s poem does not seem very encouraging. However honest it may be, it hardly seems very hopeful! Yet there is genuine encouragement here for older saints.
D. Be encouraged by the beauty of this poem. Growing old and facing death are some of the hardest experiences in life. The Bible is honest about this, but not bitter. In fact, this passage contains some of the most beautiful words ever breathed. The Holy Spirit took special pains to treat aging and dying with dignity. This shows God’s loving care for his people all through life, even down to old age, and then on to the grave. The Scripture says,
Psalm 116:15 ESV
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
But it is not only the death of his saints that is precious to God—they are precious to him throughout the whole process of aging.
E. Be encouraged by this as well: your Creator remembers you, even if you do not always remember him. The security of our salvation does not depend on our remembrance of God but on his promise to remember us. So the psalmist prayed:
Psalm 71:17–18 NLT
O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
Be encouraged by this as well: your Creator remembers you, even if you do not always remember him. The security of our salvation does not depend on our remembrance of God but on his promise to remember us. So the psalmist prayed, “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me” ().
“O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me” ().
F. By the time he was in his early nineties, my grandfather found it hard to remember much of anything, including, on occasion, who he was. This was extremely distressing for him because he knew that he was confused but didn’t know why. “I can’t remember who I am!” he said to my mother. “That’s okay, Dad,” she said, “I know who you are, and I can take care of everything you need.”
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (pp. 271–272). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
By the time he was in his early nineties, my grandfather found it hard to remember much of anything, including, on occasion, who he was. This was extremely distressing for him because he knew that he was confused but didn’t know why. “I can’t remember who I am!” he said to my mother. “That’s okay, Dad,” she said, “I know who you are, and I can take care of everything you need.”
III. He Remembers You
- Jesus has promised to remember us.
A. The great thing is not that we remember our Creator, although of course we are called to remember him. The great thing is that God remembers us now and will remember us all our days. Jesus said:
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 272). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
John 6:39–40 NLT
And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
John 6:
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 272). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
B. Do you see? Jesus has promised to remember us from now until the last of all days, when he will raise us up to everlasting life.
C. Be encouraged by the promise of the resurrection, that those who die believing in Christ will live again and will live forever. Like the Preacher of Ecclesiastes, the Apostle Paul understood that one day the old house of our earthly body will be destroyed. But as the servant of a Savior who rose from the grave, he also believed that our bodies will be rebuilt:
2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.
Be encouraged by the promise of the resurrection, that those who die believing in Christ will live again and will be young forever. Like the Preacher of Ecclesiastes, the Apostle Paul understood that one day the old house of our earthly body will be destroyed. But as the servant of a Savior who rose from the grave, he also believed that our bodies will be rebuilt:
2 Corinthians 5:
D. This new house is the resurrection body of everyone who believes in Jesus, his cross, and his empty tomb.
This new house is the resurrection body of everyone who believes in Jesus, his cross, and his empty tomb.
E. Maybe this is why some old saints are so young at heart that they hardly seem to grow old at all. I love the promise of , which compares the righteous to a palm tree growing in the house of God. “They still bear fruit in old age,” the psalmist says; “they are ever full of sap and green” (v. 14). Even as they grow old, the righteous are alive by the power of the Holy Spirit living in them. Though outwardly they are “wasting away,” inwardly they are “being renewed day by day” (). They live in the hope of an eternal home, where they know they will be alive and vibrant again.
Psalm which compares the righteous to a palm tree growing in the house of God. “They still bear fruit in old age,” the psalmist says; “they are ever full of sap and green” (v. 14). Even as they grow old, the righteous are alive by the power of the Holy Spirit living in them. Though outwardly they are “wasting away,” inwardly they are “being renewed day by day” (). They live in the hope of an eternal home, where they know they will be young again.
F. But this hope is a hope that comes from the truth of the Gospel. Life is found in Christ and in Christ alone. And it belongs to those who are found in Christ. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. It is though Christ and Christ alone that you will find life and life more abundant.
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