By Dan Binkley
Remember the commercial a few years ago that said; “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better”? Don’t feel bad if you don’t remember it; it’s an old commercial. It is a nice sentiment though, isn’t it? But is that all there is to it? It certainly is true that without exception we are all getting older. The myth of the “fountain of youth” has fooled men and women for generations. But try as you will, you cannot stop the aging process. Someone said, “About the time your face clears up, your mind gets filmy.
Let’s not be content with just accepting the fact that we are growing old. Let’s plan and work at becoming better. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Then there was the fellow who took a different approach, “If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”
The book of Ecclesiastes talks about life here on earth, and in chapters eleven and twelve describes the aging process. Not only does Solomon tell what happens to us as we get older, he also tells us how to grow old gracefully.
Enjoy Life By Giving (Eccl. 11:1-2)
The idea of these verses comes from planting rice, sowing the seed on the water that would later produce food. The best way to happiness and true meaning to your life is to share with others. Become involved in the lives of other people. Look beyond yourself.
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Paul writes in Ephesians 4:28 that a person should work at his job rather than steal so that he will have honestly earned a living for himself and have something to give to those who are in need.
As you get older and look back, the knowledge that you were generous with what God gave you gives you much comfort – not just money – but also your time, abilities and energy. Give yourself to teach those who are younger and to set a good example for them to follow.
Adapt Willingly (Eccl. 11:34)
In verse 3 Solomon is showing us the inevitabilities of life. Clouds will pour out rain and trees will fall in the forest. And many other events will transpire which are inescapable.
The counsel comes in verse 4; “He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” If you keep watching, occupying yourself with those inevitable events, that’s all you will amount to. You’ll never get around to sowing the seed because you are waiting for ideal conditions and therefore you’ll never reap. When you adapt to the inevitable changes in life as you get older, then you can be productive in any given situation. Dr. James Dobson states, “The first principle of mental health is to accept that which cannot be changed.” So instead of reaching a point in your life that you cease being productive and think that the only thing you can do is sit in the rocking chair, you must remember that anyone at any age has worthwhile things he can accomplish and contribute to the world around him. Look around and see how you can be a benefit to others.
Trust God (Eccl. 11:5-6)
“As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes all things. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.”
Many things are beyond our comprehension. But even so, that doesn’t mean you can’t try something just because you don’t know or understand everything about it. Being unable to understand all that is involved in reproduction certainly hasn’t stopped people from having children. Therefore, be busy sowing (that is doing whatever needs to be done and is good to do), and trust God to raise it up.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”
Rejoice Daily (Eccl. 11:7-8)
We are never too old to rejoice. It is good to be alive and to see the beauties of God’s creation. “Truly the light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun.” Psalm 118:24 says, “Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And the apostle Paul urges us to, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).
We are not being encouraged to rejoice in the wrong things, or just make having fun our goal in life. But see in all that you do there is reason to count your blessings and be thankful.
Remember Your Creator While You Are Young (Eccl. 12:1-2)
Remember him while you are young lest you look back and say, “I have no delight in them.” Few people are more bitter and lonely today than those who have grown old alone, that is, apart from the Lord. The picture of verse 2 is that instead of clearing after rain, the old person who in bitterness, has closed himself in, and the clouds, instead of refreshment, bring one storm after another. Therefore, lest you find yourself cynical and bitter in your old age keep the Lord in focus throughout your entire life. You won’t regret it.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 1, p. 21
January 5, 1989