Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Under The Sun #12 (Ecclesiastes): Oh Very Young To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store by searching gatheringconnect.
Invest Your Life Ecclesiastes 11:1-8, Hebrews 10:23-25, Matthew 25:14-30
As we move now towards the conclusion of our study in the book of Ecclesiastes we read Solomon’s wise advice on the subject of investment. An investment is a valuable thing acquired with the goal of generating more. In an economic sense, an investment is the purchase of goods that are not consumed today but are used in the future to create wealth. In finance, an investment is a monetary thing of value purchased with the idea that it will provide income in the future or will later be sold at a higher price for a profit. In the spiritual sense, an investment is the personal practice of religious, moral and ethical living that will provide well being, inner peace, and hope in ones future (i.e. blessings) and provide eternal insurance after ones earthly death. Solomon’s advice in the first part of chapter eleven can be applied to all three of these, but it is the spiritual investment that God is concerned with.
Solomon advises the reader to “ship their grain across the sea” and invest in “seven ventures or even eight.” Economically and financially he encourages one to spread their investments out rather putting them all in one place. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. This is sound advice because “you do not know what disaster may come upon the land”, the market, the business or the object of your investment. You may loose one or two things (to the “rain” or “falling tree”) but gain somewhere else. We should spiritually invest this way too. Share Christ with many and do not be discouraged by those who show no growth. Others will grow and become the “good seed” that Jesus referred to in His Parable Of The Sower. (Matthew 13:23)
Solomon also warns us about the folly of not investing in anything at all. He that obsesses over the wind will never plant for fear of the seed blowing away. He who obsesses over the clouds will never reap because he is afraid of rain ruining the harvest. He who obsesses over being rejected will never share his faith! He who obsesses over earthly things will never do anything spiritually. To invest one must take risks. In fact God commands us to do so trusting only in His promises: “He who has promised is faithful”. God expects us to take Him at His word! Jesus makes this clear in His Parable Of The Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 where three servants are entrusted to invest their masters talents (a measurement of gold or silver). Two servants invest those talents and double their masters money while one servant, mistrusting his master, hides the talents in the ground and makes nothing at all. We notice that the master gives them differing measures of talents, but rejoices equally in the fact that they invested what they had and made more. The master, however, is angry with the servant that mistrusted him and hid the talents in the ground. That servant is harshly rebuked and thrown out of his presence where he is left weeping and gnashing (grinding) his teeth in regret! The message is clear: God expects His people to invest what He has entrusted to us. What has God given to you? Has He given you wealth? Then you better invest some of that wealth in His kingdom! Has He given you talent and skills? Then you better be using those gifts for His work. Has He given you strong arms and good health? Then you better be reaching out in His name to the less fortunate. Has He given you smarts? Then don’t be dummy and squander that gift on selfish pursuits but use that mind to advance His kingdom. It is His kingdom we are to advance and not our own: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. (Matthew 6:10).
God expects a return on what He has given to us. “And to all who have called upon His name He has given the right to be called the children of God” (John 1:12)— We who have received that “right” are commanded to tell others (Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20). Are you?
Christians …”We do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb”. “We can not understand the work of God”, but “we are to sow our seed in the morning and our hands are not to be idle” in the evening. “We do not know which investment will succeed”, but we are to invest what the Lord has given us. Let us make no mistake about that! Solomon instructs mankind to enjoy all the years of our lives, but we should remember that life has many dark days— so we must invest while we can making use of every opportunity.
The Line that follows says Everything to come is “meaningless” in the NIV translation. We have seen this word used 34 times in Ecclesiastes and we will hear it four more times before we are done. The Hebrew word is actually “hebel” which means “vapor”. This word is translated “vanity” in other translations (NASB, KJV, ESV, ASV) but The Message version of the Bible gets much closer by translating the word as “smoke.” The context is that this life is here and then gone. It is not, however, “meaningless” as the NIV so poorly translates. The Bible has a consistent message that we have great meaning in Christ and so do our investments.
Oh Very Young 1 Timothy 4:12-16, Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8, Matthew 6:19-21, 1 John 4:7-11
Investing the life that God gives us is not just advice for adults. God’s word is clear that the young are expected to do the same. The apostle Paul exhorted young Timothy regarding this in 1 Timothy 4:12-16 and Psalm 8:2 says, From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise on account of Your adversaries, to silence the enemy and avenger. I have attended and conducted many funerals in my life. Some of the young that were buried did far more for the kingdom of God than many of the adults (i.e. Joe & Stacy). Their examples challenge us still.
Solomon addresses the young in the concluding verses that we read today. He encourages them to enjoy their youth but to live righteously before God. Youth do not get a free pass on judgment as some foolish people assume. Young people should enjoy their vitality, but remember their creator in the days of their youth and invest their lives wisely before days of trouble come. They should store up for themselves spiritual treasures (Matthew 6:19-21) rather than wrath for the day of judgment (Romans 2:5). “Remember Him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken… This poetic reference to the breakdown of the body and eventual death will come to us all— make your contribution to life now!
“Oh Very Young” was a song composed by singer-songwriter Cat Stevens that was first released in 1974 and reached number 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number two on Easy Listening. The song calls the young to invest their lives and help this “world to see a better day”. To “carry the words of love” with them until they go to Heaven. This is a perfect closing song for this message. As Christians we know that true love comes from God in Christ Jesus (1 John 4:7-11). Let us invest our lives in Him and live His love out loud to others. We are only “dancing on this earth for a short while”. Let us live wisely in such a way as to lead others to Heaven.