As I write this article the year 2016 is now in its third day. For many of us 2015 went by in a hurry. Of course, that is the way it is with time. As it passes into history, pause a moment and reflect on the fact it will never come again. The clock of time never stands still, nor does it run backward. It cannot be stored up for future use. It continues steadily forward and once it is past it can never be recalled. Since this is the case we would do well to ponder the question, “How many more years will I be privileged to see?” Some of you reading this seem to take it for granted that you are guaranteed to live another full year. Need I remind you that some of our relatives, friends and acquaintances that started 2015 among the living are no longer here? Some of them were prepared for the eventuality, many were not, yet all had to accept the fact that time is transitory. Someone has aptly said, “Yesterday is a canceled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today is the only cash we have available.” None of us can know what tomorrow will bring.
Yes, the year 2016 has started, and in the days ahead you will continue to record more of your life’s history. What will be recorded? Will you finish the year or will your journey end before the year is over? How will it end? Are you prepared for whatever happens? You certainly have no guarantee that you will see 2017. So, heed Paul’s admonition, “See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” Eph.5:15-16. This passage teaches us to use wisely (make the best of) the time we have left to make up for all the wasted and spent opportunities of the past. Keep in mind God controls all things so whatever time we have left we need to use for God. Since time is short as compared to eternity the number of “evil” days (troubles and trials of daily living, (cf. Matt.6:34), we endure is not important, but how we use them are important. One day we will have to die so we need to use the time we have left to prepare for it. With your allotted days you have in your possession the most precious commodities in the world, your soul, and the souls of those who are being influenced by you. How you use these days will be a determining factor as to where these souls will spend eternity. So it should be of great concern to you to make the best use of these opportunities to help yourself and them. You have a choice as to how you live the year you are now living. How it ends for you will be your choice Josh.24:15. So, redeem the time. It is short but eternity is long.
TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS
We rush along. One year has ended, and a new year has begun. But how many more of them for us? There is no guarantee for any of us. And there are too few that ask the important questions: “What am I here for? Where did I come from? Where am I going?” The Scripture exhort us, “So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom” (Ps.90:12). In this hurry-up world of materialism the ending of a year should make us aware of the impending close of our earthly life: “It is appointed unto men once to die…The living know that they shall die” Heb.9:27; Eccl.9:5.
Of our earthly life, James, half-brother to Jesus wrote, “What is your life? For you are a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away” Jas.4:14. As 2015 has ended we should remember that the flowers that bloomed last Spring are now faded and gone. We live but a short time, then our “December” arrives. And life ends. We cannot live 2015 over again, but we can “get us a heart of wisdom,” and find purpose and happiness in 2016. King Solomon, the richest man on earth in his time, wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, which records his search for purpose and happiness. Let us see what God had him write about purpose and happiness.
Happiness is not found in material riches. Stocks and bonds, 401k’s, IRAs, real estate, bank accounts and annuities will not guarantee happiness. The rich man wrote, “I gathered me also silver and gold, and the treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got me men-singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me…and behold all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was no profit under the sun” Eccl.2:8, 9, 11. What happiness did Judas find with his thirty pieces of silver? Or Achan, with his wedge of gold? Or the hoarded portion of the sale by Ananias and Sapphira? Yes, many have coveted wealth, and “pierced themselves through with many sorrows” as the apostle wrote (1.Tim.6:10).
Happiness is not found in dominant power. Solomon was the most powerful king on earth. But he wrote, “And I hated all my labor wherein I labored under the sun, seeing that I must leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet will he have a rule over all my labor wherein I have labored, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity” (Eccl.2:18, 19).
Happiness is not found in worldly pleasure. Many avidly seek happiness in the giddy whirl of pleasure and social entertainment. But Solomon wrote, “I said in my heart, come now, I will prove thee with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure; and behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, it is mad, and of mirth, what doeth it?” Eccl.2:1, 2. Often Solomon said: “All is vanity under the sun.”
Happiness is found only in obedience to God. When he came to the end of his search, Solomon wrote, “This is the end of the matter; all has been heard; fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl.12:13). Until we have confidence, from His Word, that we have obeyed our God, we cannot know true happiness. Go back and read those beatitudes in Matt.5:1-12. There is the basis of true happiness! “Blessed” can be translated “happy” in every instance. If you truly want a Happy New Year in 2016 then allow God to make it that by fully obeying Him. (My revision of an article by Clem Thurman– Gospel Minutes, Vol.56, No.52, Dec.26, 2007).