What is Life? By Rev. S. V. Nathan
“I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life”
“It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered & protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions. After a while, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone & frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive. The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others & can admire the other person’s good qualities. Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet.”(Taken from http://www.videoinspiration.net/blog/inspirational-famous-short-stories/). This story reminds us that our life is relational, as the porcupines give warmth to other porcupines and receive the warmth from others, likewise as we bless, we will be blessed. Hence, King Solomon wants us to live by serving others (Ecc 3:12). Let us heed his advice:
1. The Life’s Combination (verses 1-8):
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecc 3:1
The first and foremost thing that we must understand is that life presents a combination of good & bad, ups & downs! (vv 1-8). Just as a coin has two sides, so life has two sides. Changes such as Time and Seasons are God’s creation – day and night, the four seasons keep on changing in turn. So life needs changes and variations. If there is only summer, with no rain, Life will become a desert. Otherwise life will be monotonous and boring, and we are not going to enjoy it. Moreover it is time and again a reminder to us to draw near to God during the good and bad times. For both happy and sad moments will come in turns: “for the good things of it are of no certainty, no continuance” (Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary).
2. The Life’s Control (verse 11a):
He hath made everything beautiful in his time
Secondly, our life is controlled by God, He is the one who gives and takes away life. Everything in everyone’s life is ordained and ordered by Him. All will come to pass in His time as He sees fit. Though death is an experience that is universal, it is an enemy to humanity, but it is not out of God’s control. The number of days that we will live on this earth is ordained by God. He has the power to shorten or prolong it. Remember the rich man and Lazarus, both died. Death is equalizer to all. Hence it is grave truth; life on this earth is not in our hands. Hence, it is a reminder to all of us to ponder: “How long? How? When am I going to leave this earth?” Hence, Moses says “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12). Let us be wise and diligent in our earthly life, because our days are numbered.
3. The Life’s Contribution (verse 11a):
I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. Ecc 3:12
Thirdly, we may mistake if we think we were born for ourselves. “It is our business to do good; it is in doing good that there is the truest pleasure, and what is so laid out is best laid up and will turn to the best account.” (Mathew Henry). Our meaningful contributions to our generation in loving, serving, and sharing with others, shall pave the way to eternity. These prepare us for the eternal kingdom on this earth as we render reverence and fear for Him on this earth, by saving the treasure in the heavenly bank.
Remember, the rich man in Luke’s gospel was blessed by God, but he did not bless anyone with his blessings and ended up in hell (Luke 16:19-31). Hence James warns us “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4: 17). Let us ask ourselves, during my short stay on this earth, how did I live or what I have done for the glory of Him by serving and sharing with my blessings. Hence, our life is short, and it is up to us to make it sweet and blessed.
As Adam Clarke says, “Since God has so disposed the affairs of this world, that the great events of providence cannot be accelerated or retarded by human cares and anxieties, submit to God; make a proper use of what he has given: do thyself no harm, and endeavor as much as possible to do others good. Enjoy, and bless thyself; let others share. The transient blessing: ‘tis the gift of God.” Therefore, let’s remember that we must live together by giving and serving while we yet live. Remember: “Life is short, and it is up to you to make it blessed by blessing others”. Thus, let us seize all the favourable opportunity for every good purpose and live a meaningful life by serving and glorifying God. May God bless you abundantly.