Living Life to the Fullest (Ecclesiastes 11:1-10)

  • when last did you do something bold?
  • when last did you grab life by the tail and take a risk, turning down the opportunity to play it safe?
  • William James said, “Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources”
  • when last did you color outside of the lines?
  • there’s a sign along the Alaskan highway that says:
  • CHOOSE YOUR RUT CAREFULLY, YOU’LL BE IN IT FOR THE NEXT 200 MILES
  • wow!
  • many people are in a rut and they don’t even know it
  • as we get older, we tend to play it safe
  • some settle for comfortable and predictable lives
  • only a few dare to be bold with their lives and seize every day as a fresh gift
  • only a few roll out of bed in the morning with the fresh enthusiasm of a child
  • we’re at the point in Ecclesiastes where Solomon advocates a little bold living
  • he says this: we ought to use wisdom boldly and carefully, cannily yet humbly, taking joy from life while realizing that our days of joy are limited by the certainty of death
  • Solomon is telling us, don’t play it safe!
  • don’t let fear, pessimism, and paranoia rule your life!
  • it’s time to take risks and live boldly, deciding to enjoy life instead of just enduring it
  • having wrestled with the meaning of life, Solomon concludes that life is not monotonous; rather, it is an adventure of faith that is anything but tedious
  • death is certain, but life is a gift from God, and God wants us to enjoy it
  • yes, Solomon says, there are mysteries we can’t understand and questions we can’t answer
  • but that’s no excuse to lead a dull and colorless life
  • I came across a Christian author recently; his name is Charlie Hedges
  • listen to what he writes:
  • “How many truly awake people do you know? They’re easy to spot. They are interesting and sometimes energetic. They are the kind of people you just like to be around. They seem to sense the awesomeness of life, and they have a tendency to make it contagious”
  • and he concludes, “Maybe we just need to be reawakened, as if from a long slumber. Maybe we can be passionate too.”
  • just because your eyes are open doesn’t mean you’re awake
  • but just because you’re asleep doesn’t mean you can’t wake up
  • in this morning’s passage, Solomon gives us a wake up call
  • Ecclesiastes 11 can be summed up in four words:
  • BE BOLD and BE JOYFUL
  • when we’re bold and when we’re joyful, we’ll be living our lives to the fullest, refusing to settle for the dull and colorless
  • we’ll experience the joy of living under God’s sovereign hand
  • BE BOLD
  • let’s consider how we can live our lives boldly
  • (Ecclesiastes 11:1) Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.
  • these verses don’t immediately make sense to us
  • what does it mean to cast our bread on the waters?
  • in those days, the place where money was to be made was in the lucrative import and import business of Mediterranean ports
  • casting bread on the waters for a return after many days is Solomon’s way of describing investment in the trade market of the day
  • he’s saying, “Send your grain out in ships”
  • it would be months before the ship returned, but when it did, the merchant’s willingness to take a risk would be rewarded
  • somebody is going to point out that risks are not always rewarded
  • why should I take a risk when everything I risk could be lost?
  • (Ecclesiastes 11:2) Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
  • of course there’s risk involved, so the Teacher instructs us to diversify our portfolio
  • who knows what crop will fail, what ship will be seized by pirates, what merchant will abscond with the profits?
  • don’t put all your eggs in one basket
  • spread your investments widely – to seven or eight places – so that no one or two tragedies can wipe you out
  • this is crucial for prosperity
  • see what he’s saying?
  • take a calculated risk!
  • don’t let fear of failure paralyze you
  • take risks – calculated ones – but do it boldly
  • even though the world is uncertain, and even though we can’t control what happens, it’s still better to take action rather than be paralyzed with fear
  • Solomon also uses the example of a farmer in verses 3 and 4
  • (Ecclesiastes 11:3) If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie.
  • (Ecclesiastes 11:4) Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
  • some people plan their lives around weather forecasts
  • there’s a place for this, of course
  • we can’t control the weather, but the weather controls us
  • but what happens when we pay too much heed to the weather?
  • verse 4 says that we’ll end up not planting or reaping
  • how absurd!
  • don’t wait for ideal conditions
  • if we wait for conditions to be ideal, we’ll be waiting a long time
  • for some people, the wind is never right
  • there’s always an excuse to wait for a better time
  • but there’s never a better time than this one
  • Billy Sunday said that an excuse is “the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie”
  • a farmer once asked his neighbor if he could borrow a rope
  • “Sorry,” the neighbor said, “I’m using my rope to tie up my milk”
  • “Rope can’t tie up milk!”
  • “I know,” said the neighbor, “but when a man doesn’t want to do something, one reason is as good as another”
  • what lies are you telling yourself?
  • what excuses are you making?
  • there will never be a better time than now – don’t wait for ideal conditions
  • we could be talking about your commitment to Christ
  • don’t put it off – the time is now
  • we could be talking about living a life of bold obedience to Christ – don’t put it off, the time is now
  • don’t wait for the weather conditions to be perfect – do it now
  • verses 5 and 6 are so true
  • (Ecclesiastes 11:5) As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
  • (Ecclesiastes 11:6) Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.
  • no one knows how God works in creation
  • and therefore, as verse 6 says, we should use our days wisely
  • get up early and sow your seed
  • work hard until evening
  • do your job, and trust God to bless some of the tasks you’ve accomplished
  • you don’t know which ones God will bring to fruition
  • now is the time to act boldly!
  • let God take care of the mysteries and you take care of your work
  • be bold – diversify, work hard, and be bold
  • alongside his admonition to be bold, the Teacher directs us to BE JOYFUL
  • find beauty in every day
  • (Ecclesiastes 11:7) Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
  • what a joy to anticipate each new day and see the sunlight once more
  • every night when the sun goes down, there is no guarantee that it will rise once again, or that we will be there to see it
  • that’s why the Teacher remarks on the sweetness of seeing the light of the sun afresh every day
  • Warren Wiersbe writes:
  • “I confess that I never realized what it meant to live a day at a time until I was nearly killed in an auto accident back in 1966. It was caused by a drunk driver careening around a curve at between 80 and 90 miles per hour. By the grace of God, I had no serious injuries; but my stay in the Intensive Care Ward, and my time of recuperation at home, made me a firm believer in Deuteronomy 3 3:25, ‘As thy days, so shall thy strength be.’ Now when I awaken each morning, I thank God for the new day; and ask Him to help me use it wisely for His glory and to enjoy it as His gift”
  • what a joy to be alive!
  • read verse 8 with me:
  • (Ecclesiastes 11:8) However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless.
  • enjoy life now, no matter what your age – because the days of darkness will come
  • he’s not saying that old age is bad, but nonetheless – youth is the time for enjoyment
  • enjoy life while you can, because in old age problems will begin to reveal themselves
  • verse 9 adds a caveat
  • enjoy life, but don’t get mesmerized by the things of the world
  • (Ecclesiastes 11:9) Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.
  • this is what I long for: the ability to enjoy life while remembering that there’s more to life that what we see
  • Solomon says, “Enjoy life passionately, but keep your eyes on the big picture – on heaven above”
  • and then read verse 10
  • (Ecclesiastes 11:10) So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless.
  • the phrase, “youth and vigor are meaningless,” could be better translated, “youth and vigor are transient”
  • the precious years of our youth go quickly, and we must not waste the opportunities they bring
  • make the most of your “dawning years,” as one writer says
  • some people say that it’s hard to be young
  • this verse reminds us that it’s great to be young
  • but no matter, what the age, we are to give ourselves wholeheartedly to life’s endeavors
  • invest prudently, labor diligently, and find joy daily
  • because the rate of unemployment in the grave is 100%
  • this is the sixth time that Solomon has told us the same thing: accept life as a gift, and learn to enjoy everything that God has given us
  • get at it! have a ball! enjoy life
  • do it today while you still have time
  • as Swindoll writes, “Start activating your life today and never quit…Refuse to let your life collect dust. Remember that rut on the Alaskan highway and reject anything similar! Start today. If you don’t start today, chances are good you never will. Don’t wait for the weather to change. Don’t wait for the kids to grow up. Don’t wait for your husband to come back or your wife to return. Don’t wait until you have spare time or more money or stronger health or a better job or a bigger house. Don’t wait for conditions to be perfect. Be bullish about this, starting today. And never quit”
  • what are you waiting for?
  • and what’s holding you back?
  • William James said, “Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources”
  • let’s pray and thank God for the blessings he’s given us, and commit to being fully awake everyday, beginning now
  • Amen?
Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Liberty Grace Church in Toronto. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada