10Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity. – Ecc. 11:10
According to Matthew Henry, these are words of caution and exhortation to call on young people to manage their spiritual life-relationship with God- and corporal life- the physical matters in this world- well. The challenge is to keep a good balance of the two without compromising and sacrificing either one of it and only a responsible person can do that.
“Remove sorrow…” Young people dislike a sense of control or at the least are impatient of it because they could not do what they want to do. They want to be free. They could not bear disappointment or displeasure and that brings a sense of sorrow in their hearts. Solomon intimates to young people to put that sorrow away because it could be a breeding ground for rebellion. He further intimates to take away the evil in the flesh– anything that causes one to sin- because that will hinder them from becoming what God wants them to be. They must be careful not to let sinful passion rule over them.
One primary responsibility of young people would probably be his studies. For working students, they double their responsibility by their work. Generally, education is a young person’s responsibility to his parents/or guardian and to himself. His laxity will be his loss. No one can learn on behalf of another! It would have been good if the human brain functions like a computer wherein you can transfer files using USB or microSD chips. It would have been easier to upgrade mental hard drives by simply using file transfer programs but sadly, God has not created us that way. God knows that we need to survive the troubles in this world and He has given the tools that we can use to become better stewards of its affairs. We only need to take hold of it through the process of education.
Of course, we learn from mistakes but lessons from these often come in painful ways. We cannot avoid learning the hard way but we can avoid too much pain if we are responsible enough to listen to Godly guidance from parents and elders.
Solomon has sighed, “Childhood and youth are vanity…” Why are they vanity? For one, youth is just a stage in life. It will pass you without notice and if you fail to put it into good use, it would mean nothing… It would all come to waste so be responsible.