“I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless. ’Laughter,’ I said, ‘is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?’ I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly-my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. Ecclesiastes 2:1-3
Solomon’s search led him from wisdom to pleasure, especially pursuit of pleasure as an end in itself. He tried laughter, wine, and the party scene. All the while he didn’t lose his perspective but observed hedonism as a philosophy of life. In the end he found it empty. As verse 3 makes clear, no one lives forever. In light of your oncoming death, why not party hearty?
A certain restaurant placed the following sign in a front window: “Life is short. Eat dessert first.” Besides being a catchy advertisement for cheesecake and apple pie, the sign conveys a fascinating message.
Life is short. On every hand we see the evidence that no one lives forever. The ever-changing obituary notices remind us that one day we too will die. Or to make it more personal, one day I will die and one day you will die.
But what insight follows from that undeniable truth? The sign suggests a thought along these lines: “Since you don’t know how long you are going to live, eat dessert first because you don’t want to die eating mashed potatoes.” Or something like that.
I find a certain wisdom in that approach. There are some foods I prefer not to eat dead or alive, tuna fish and Brussels sprouts being high on that list. So, yes, I’d prefer to have a chocolate eclair rather than a tuna casserole.
But there is another side to all this. “Eat dessert first” seems to imply that the real purpose of life is personal pleasure. But does not experience teach us to “work first, then play hard"? A menu of nothing but sweets will eventually rot your teeth and give you a very unhappy tummy. Likewise, you only appreciate your pleasure when it comes as a reward for hard work well done.
Life is short. Work hard, play hard, love God with all your heart, take each day as a blessing from the Lord, enjoy your family, love your neighbor as yourself, take time to pray and to smell the coffee. In so doing, you will find what the psalmist called the “light of life” (56:13), and you may even discover that tuna fish can be as tasty as apple pie.
Heavenly Father, I pray for the joy of the Lord to fill my life today. Amen.
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