Text: Ecclesiastes 9:1-12
The Big Idea: When you’re in full worry mode, it is impossible to enjoy life. Certainty brings stability, which alleviates worry. Don’t worry, but do enjoy your life!
Multitudes of people, many of them professing Christians, go through life will little or no joy. They may experience moments of happiness, such as the kind you experience on Christmas Day, but there is not an ongoing experience of joy.
Frankly, who can blame them? As we look at the drama being played out on the world stage, we are first hand witnesses to events being perpetrated by others that are intended to create fear in us and rob us of joy.
What is the end result of all of this anxiety?
When you’re in full worry mode, it is impossible to enjoy life.
Anxiety kills joyful living. You can’t enjoy what God has given you in the present because you’re worried about what might take place in the future.
Now think about that. If you’re always worried about what might happen, then you’re not going to be able to enjoy the good gifts that God has already given to you – which are a certainty – because you’re worried about what might happen – which is, at best, an uncertainty.
Remember this: God wants you, indeed God gives you permission, to enjoy the certainties of life.
Certainty brings stability, which alleviates worry.
Let me illustrate with a subject that the Preacher of Ecclesiastes has repeatedly addressed in his messages. Death.
Is it certain that we are all going to die? Yes! We all have that in common. As the Preacher of Ecclesiastes has written more than once, death is a fate that is common to all. The rich die and the poor die, the righteous die and the unrighteous die, the educated die and the uneducated die. Death is the greatest certainty in life.
Because death is the greatest certainty in life many, many people worry about death. Why? Although death is a certainty, what happens after death is an uncertainty for many. And uncertainty creates anxiety.
Can I tell you something? I think about death a lot. Not in a morbid way, not in some creepy way. I think about the certainty of death. I think about what happens to those who die apart from a genuine saving knowledge of Christ. I think about death because it helps me live properly in the here and now.
Even though I think a lot about death, I don’t worry about death. That doesn’t mean I live recklessly. I ask God to protect me when I get in the car. I ask God to protect my family as they drive to work each day. I think about death, but I don’t worry about death. How is it possible to not worry about something that is absolutely going to happen?
It’s possible because there is a greater certainty that creates stability, which in turn removes anxiety.
What is the greater certainty than death? Now what I’m about to say applies on to a genuine believer in Christ. It has absolutely no impact on those who have not been born again. Paul shows us a greater certainty than death. Turn with me to Romans 8 and let’s read verses 35 – 39. As we read really pay attention to what Paul writes.
“Who (make yourself a note that the who is all inclusive) shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Now notice carefully what Paul says next) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35–39, ESV)
What certainty is greater than death? The greater certainty is that nothing, no one, no event, no person, no organization, no sickness, no disease, no financial setback, no tax bill, nothing can separate me from the love of God that I experience through Christ Jesus our Lord!
If that doesn’t spread your butter, I don’t know what will!
Yes, death is certain. Yes, I am going to die. But there is a greater certainty and the greater certainty creates stability, which removes anxiety!
The GREATER certainty creates GREAT certainty, which removes ALL anxiety!
If you struggle with worry and anxiety the Bible says to enjoy the present while preparing for the future. Enjoy the present and prepare for what might happen in the future.
In the book of Proverbs we read:
- “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3, ESV)
- “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:6–11, ESV)
The ONLY way you are going to be able to overcome worry and anxiety is by applying the truth of Scripture in the power of the Holy Spirit to your life.
Positive thinking won’t do it. Trying to ignore it won’t help. You have to replace the worry and anxiety with truth! By the way that’s how we overcome any and all sin in our lives is through the application of the truth of Scripture.
As I was doing my research I was stuck by how many times Jesus spoke to the subject of worry and anxiety. Why did he do that? Because he lived in the same fallen sinful world we live in and he knew that the temptation to worry was plentiful. Let’s read what Jesus says to YOU. Take these words PERSONALLY!
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:26–34, ESV)
When you feel anxious, when you are tempted to worry, Paul says talk to God about it! Ask for his strength, ask him to help you apply the truth of Scripture to your life right then and there because that’s when you need it the most.
Back to the Preacher’s message in Ecclesiastes 9.
Anxiety eats away at the joy life can give. Anxiety kills joyful living! That is as true today as it was in the time the Preacher wrote Ecclesiastes. The Teacher has been struggling in chapters 7 and 8 with the question why bad things happen to some good people and good things happen to some bad people. How can a just God allow this to come about? He ended chapter 8 with the conclusion that no one can find out all the work of God; “even though those who are wise claim to know, they cannot find it out.”
Now as he open chapter nine he begins with these words.
“But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him.” (Ecclesiastes 9:1, ESV)
We need to lay some groundwork before we get to the Preacher’s advice on dealing with anxiety.
First of all notice the phrase “how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God.”
That expression “in the hand of God” is another way of saying that we are in the control of God. Remember the Sunday School Song “He’s got the whole world in His hands”. That’s true. Our lives are in the hands of God, they are in the control of the sovereign God of the universe.
Now it’s important to understand this in order for us to benefit from what the Preacher is going to encourage us to do later in the chapter.
Even though good people suffer, the way we come to terms with what we see is by understanding and acknowledging that even though it appears nobody is in control of what’s going on we must remember and take comfort in the knowledge that God is in control. We are truly in the hands of God.
One of my favorite songs is “Flirtin’ with Disaster” by Molly Hatchet. I discovered this song in 1978 and it’s been a favorite ever since. Listen to some of the lyrics.
I’m travelin’ down the road and I’m flirtin’ with disaster
I’ve got the pedal to the floor, my life is running faster
I’m out of money, out of hope, it looks like self-destruction
Well, how much more can we take with all of this corruption
We’re flirtin’ with disaster, y’all know what I mean
And the way we run our lives, it makes no sense to me
I don’t know about yourself or what you want to be, yeah
When we gamble with our time, we choose our destiny
I’m travelin’ down that lonesome road
Feel like I’m dragging a heavy load
Yeah, I’ve tried to turn my head away
Feel about the same most every day
You know what I’m talking about, baby
Speeding down the fast lane, honey, we’re playin’ from town to town
The boys and I’ve been burnin’ it up, can’t seem to slow it down
I’ve got the pedal to the floor, our lives are runnin’ faster
We got our sights set straight ahead, but I ain’t sure what we’re after
What we’re the boys saying? There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to life! They struggled with the corruption that they saw going on in the world around them. I love the line, “We’re flirtin’ with disaster, y’all know what I mean
And the way we run our lives, it makes no sense to me.”
They, like so many others, struggled to make sense out of life. They didn’t understand or maybe they simply didn’t acknowledge that they were not running their own lives, that they were in the hands of God.
Do you acknowledge that you are in the hand of God? Do you live as if your life is in the hands of God?
The hands of God for the Christian are a place of comfort, a place of protection. The hands of God for a believer are a place of encouragement and hope as we live in a world that we learned last week can be a very dangerous and unjust place to live.
Now in verses 2 – 6 the Preacher once again reminds us that the same fate happens to all. We all die. And he deduces from what he sees (remember he is writing with incomplete revelation) that it is much better to be alive than it is to be dead! Now we know on this side of the Cross of Christ it’s much better to be dead in Christ than alive on planet earth.
But he was writing with what knowledge he had. He said all things considered, it’s even better to be living dog than a dead human.
In verse 7 he gives his advice to the living. What is his advice? His advice is to “Enjoy Life!”
“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7, ESV)
Two things I want you to take note of in verse 7. First of all he gives us a command. “Go. Go do what I say!”
Second, notice that there is a sense of urgency. “Go now! Not later, don’t hesitate. Don’t put it off.”
Why is there this sense of urgency? Because we all die and, as we learned last week, only God knows the day and time of our death.
Enjoy the good gifts that God has given to you. Don’t worry, enjoy the good gifts of God!
Why can we enjoy the good gifts that God has given to you? It’s simple really, you can enjoy each and every day because you are in the hands of God!
How do you apply tonight’s message? If you’re worried and anxious, remind yourself as often as necessary what the Bible says about it. And then replace the worry and the anxiety with the truth. Part of the truth is to go enjoy the food and the drink that God has given you to enjoy!
Don’t worry, but please do enjoy life!