Charles, a seasoned pastor, received a call from two of his parishioners begging him to talk to their adult son. This young man was not living a raucous life by any means, but his parents were concerned that he was living only for himself, concerned only with fame and fortune and not the things of God. When Charles met with the young man and explained the gospel, the young man replied, “Yeah, pastor, I know all of that. In a couple of years, I will come back to church and start living more consciously for the Lord. Right now, it is my time. I have to make my mark, do my thing. I am sure God understands.”
Many younger people share this young man’s view. It is even common among older people when they are considering young adults. “Let them have their fun; they will come back to the Lord when they are older,” some might say. However, that is not the view of Scripture, as we see in today’s passage.
As the Preacher who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes approaches the end of his work, he states, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come” (12:1). This instruction refers to far more than simple mental recollection. It is a call to think on the Lord and His will, and to live according to His standards. It involves action; those who remember God worship Him and seek guidance from Him in His Word (see Ps. 22:27; Jonah 2:7). Why the call to remember our Creator in our youth? Part of it has to do with the complacency of youth, the assumption while we are young that we yet have many years ahead of us, and so we can put off for tomorrow what we might otherwise do today. The call is also given so that young people make the best use of the strengths of youth before old age saps our energy and gives us more burdens to carry. Matthew Henry comments, “Call him to mind when thou art young, and keep him in mind throughout all the days of thy youth, and never forget him. Guard thus against the temptations of youth, and thus improve the advantages of it.” Ecclesiastes 12:2–8 paints the slow decline of old age in order to underscore the need to use the strength of youth wisely for God—while this strength remains.
But the most important reason to remember God while we are young lies in the fact that life is eeting. Life is vanity (v. 8), that is, quick to come and go. Youth—and even old age—will not last forever. But all that we do in memory of our Creator, no matter how old we are when we do it, will be remembered by the Lord forever (vv. 13–14; see 1 Cor. 3:10–15).