“Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” (Prov. 19:20) I am very far removed from my youth, my physical abilities, as it does with all men, have waned in certain areas, but as is also true with all who reach a certain age, my experiences with life have increased, yet experience is not wisdom, it is merely the knowledge of how this life, this world and the people in it, goes around the sun.
These things are easily seen, for nothing really changes, not in the sense of values, in the sense of what matters. Children play as they always have, men and women seek each other out for companionship, they rise early to provide for their needs, they live the best lives that they can, grow old and then perish from the face of the earth, and in time from the memories of those that come after them. They have nearly always sought the things of this world for their pleasures, sometimes in the concern and care of others, but most generally, man lives for himself. “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” (Eccl. 1:14)
The Holy Spirit used the wisest man to ever live, Solomon, to pen these words, and to the majority of people they are fearful words indeed, for they see them as life in the view of a complete waste of time, as valueless and meaningless, as a frivolous pursuit of many decades of useless existence. Yet to those whom the Lord has blessed with wisdom, they are as fine gold, they are precious to contemplate.
Those who will not contemplate these words in the Scriptures will see their lives as the daily grind, a burden that never ceases, that repeats itself nearly every day, and the profit of it is found only in the accumulation of material items and a continuing flow of memories, the search for happiness is their goal, and the search will never end, nor will it ever be accomplished. The value-based system, which adorns their lives, is based on the difference between happy and sad, of content and dissatisfied, of peace and fear, and it is the world that holds sway over them. The journey will only end with death, and they will never attain all that they have desired. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12)
When our goal is Christ, death is no more than a door we must pass through to continue our search, old age is an advantage to let the youth have their turn in the sun, so to speak, while we of a greater age are allowed the time to contemplate and search for even more of Christ without the hindrances of the world and its never ceasing call. The wise man understands that the world was functioning before he arrived, that it will continue to do so after he has left, and he no longer seeks his place in it. His pride of not only self-acknowledgment begins to burn out, but of his desire to be recognized by his peers, or by any for that matter, his desire is “not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)
I fear that few born-again believers reach that point, far too many are still trapped by the world, their desire to be recognized does not leave them, whether it be in appearance, in the possessions they have obtained, in writing books, they are looking for the accolades and rewards of man. Few seek the Lord for the sake of His glory. Some who reach a greater age will understand, few that are young will, most will look back on their lives though and see the fruits of vanity and vexation of Spirit, interspersed occasionally with service to the Lord. The wise man will heed these words, look back on his life, and determine that the path that the Lord has placed before him is the only one that matters.