The Challenge to be Responsible

Responsible Youth Image from eruptingmind.com

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.

The Challenge to Behave

Behave!

9Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes: but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment…

In a commentary by Matthew Henry, he wrote that verse 9 of chapter 11 of the book of Ecclesiastes was an example of an “IRONY”, a figure of speech that says something but means the opposite. Solomon used this particular style in writing to present his argument.

In plain language, Solomon tells young people to, “Rejoice and live a merry life, obey your thirst and satisfy your desires…” …”Do what you want”… but actually, he means the opposite. There is a certain attitude in young people; the more you suppress them, the more they resist. Normally, as a person grows in strength and knowledge, he starts to appreciate a sense of independence so he decides and does things on his own. It is part of growing into maturity. The problem, however, begins when the young person refuses to listen to good counsel. “I’m old enough”… “I know what I do”… are the familiar dialogues.

Of course, this is not to say, “Go ahead and prove it yourself” because in the latter part of the verse the preacher pointed to God as the judge of all our actions. Solomon was trying to emphasize the danger and folly of living only after carnal pleasure. He was saying that it is unwise to look for happiness or acceptance from wrong places because at the end of the day, you will only suffer from all your wrong choices and it will be too late to turn the consequential circumstances around.

It is important for young people to understand this warning, so that they will not waste their lives.

In 1Corinthians 6:12, Paul wrote about a Corinthian slogan which, the believers in Corinth used to justify their loose behavior, “Everything is permissible” (NIV) “All things are lawful unto me” (KJV2000) but according to Paul not everything is beneficial or expedient.

To test if what you will do is proper or not, here are some guidelines to consider:

  • Will it harm my body? Rom 12:1
  • Will it harm my spiritual life? Gal 6:8
  • Will it harm my witness? 1Cor 10:32
  • Is it questionable? 1 Thess 5:22
  • Does it please God? 1Jn 3:20

It is not wrong to have a good sense of happiness or enjoyment and fulfillment in our earthly life. The important thing is that we are gearing toward the right direction. “Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of your heart”. Psalm 37:4

A Challenge to the Youth–Ecc.11.9-12.1

Lagro United Methodist Church Youth Group w/ Pastor Orly

9Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth,and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes: but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. 10Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity. 1Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw near, when you shall say, “I have no pleasure in them”…

-Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1 (KVJ 2000)

Youth” describes the age of strength and vitality, the age of adventure and curiosity and the time when one begins to form his dreams and ambition. This is the most exciting years for a person yet the most perilous as well.

I say perilous because this is a stage in life when a person has to make crucial choices, which affect his future. Any wrong decision may cause irreversible problems later on.

One very important tool for one to achieve his goals is to have good learning, thus, parents send their children to school. Young people spend most of their time in school and even when at home; they spend much of their time with their studies. Practically, these young people have lives only in two places, school and home. However, it is not all aptitude. Attitude is a very important quality to succeed in life so, for professing Christians, they frequent one more place, the church.

Yet in the demanding cycle of young life, it is sometimes easy to get bored. Young people would want some sorts of recreation to unburden themselves. They do not want to miss the fun of being young so to speak.

However, when one fails to balance between responsibility and recreation, trouble sets in. The body, spiritual life, relationships to parents and the people around may suffer.

We raise the issue of growing up and the things that go with it and the issue of school life, which is a big responsibility as it is.

Here in our text, King Solomon has offered a wise counsel for the young people in his day and it remains true up to this day. We can find Ecclesiastes 11 and 12 important for young people to understand.