Second, remembering the brevity of life can give us a heart of wisdom. In Psalm 90, Moses reminds us that God is from everlasting to everlasting, but because of mankind’s sin, we all return to dust after a mere seventy or eighty years, which end like a sigh. Then Moses prays, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (v. 12). What is a heart of wisdom? “Wisdom” in Scripture is a broad term that may be summarized as right living, or living life as God intended it to be lived, because of our fear of the Lord. Comparing God’s everlasting majesty to the brevity of our days because of our sin instills a fear of the Lord: a recognition of who He is and of the honor, worship, and submission He deserves. Numbering our days reminds us that we will shortly stand in His presence and give an account for what we have done. To do so impresses on us the importance of living according to His Word as He has called us to do. The effect is a life of wisdom, inspired by meditating on the brevity of life.
Third, the brevity of life leads us to use our lives and all that we have for God’s glory. In 1 Chronicles 29, David takes up an offering for the temple. He himself gives generously, as does all Israel, amassing gold, silver, and bronze for the work. And when David sees the result of the offering, he offers a prayer of praise to God. David prays:
“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? . . . Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.” (vv. 14–16)
As David considers his ability to give to the temple, he is in awe that he, a man whose days are as fleeting as a shadow, would be able to do something that would contribute to the work of the Lord and the glory of God. That realization causes him to give generously, to engage in the work with his whole heart, and to praise the name of the Lord. We, too, are invited to participate in this astounding blessing. We who are like grass that quickly withers are invited to be instruments in the Lord’s hand, accomplishing His work. We are invited to be ambassadors for the King of kings. We are invited to use our gifts, possessions, and abilities in ways that bring about eternal fruit for the glory of His name. And if we have an opportunity to participate in such glory, how can that not be our highest priority and joy in the few days we have here on earth?
We live in a culture that holds out the glitter of wealth and opportunity and calls us to spend our days pursuing its goods. We live in a culture that presses us to compromise God’s truth to find acceptance and success here and now. But in the face of these temptations, remembering the brevity of life keeps us from getting drawn off course. Remembering the brevity of life keeps us focused on what matters, that we might live a life of wisdom, giving ourselves wholeheartedly to the work of the Lord.