Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), the great early American statesman, was by no means a believer in Christ, and yet he had great insight that has benefitted many people. Franklin once said that “lost time is never found again,” a pithy way of saying that we should make the most of the moments that we do have, for once the present is gone, it is gone forever.
Divorced from divine revelation, the notion that we should make the most of the short time that we have on this earth can inspire wanton hedonism. In light of what God has spoken in His Word, however, we find that the brevity of life can be a proper encouragement to enjoy the gifts He has given us. That is essentially the point of today’s passage.
Ecclesiastes 9:9 calls us to act in a certain way all the days of this “vain life.” Here, as is often the case in the book of Ecclesiastes, “vain” refers not to something that is completely empty or pointless; rather, it is being used as a synonym for “fleeting.” The point of the Preacher who wrote the book is that despite the brevity of life on this side of glory, we are to find godly enjoyment where our Creator has given it. We are to be aware that our days are numbered, but instead of lamenting this fact, we are to see this brief span allotted to us as an opportunity to rejoice in God’s generosity. Among the most precious gifts of our generous Maker is a godly spouse, and we are not to take any of the time that we have with our husbands or wives for granted. “House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Prov. 19:14), and God’s good gifts should never be despised. Yet how often do we despise the precious blessing of a godly husband or wife by not taking the opportunity to enjoy the company of the one whom the Lord has given to walk with us through the trials and joys of this present life?
By extension, we could apply this instruction to the rest of our families. Though we would never want to make our families into idols, it is nevertheless true that God wants us to enjoy our children, our grandchildren, and all of the loved ones with whom He has blessed us. Our time with them is short indeed. Parents well know that all they have to do is blink and their children are grown and gone. Our portion in this life under the sun, as Ecclesiastes 9:9 tells us, is to thank our Creator for this time with our families, and to do so by enjoying our lives with them while we can. Every day that passes is one that cannot be recovered.