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“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.  Let your garments be always white.  Let not oil be lacking on your head.  Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 9:7-9

We could take any of three approaches to the daily experience of this earthly life.

One, this present experience is all we have, our only chance at a little happiness.  But absolutizing this life puts enormous pressure on us, intensifying our desperation and pushing us toward doing stupid things.  Worse, it cuts us off from the endless love of God in Christ.

Two, this present experience is a stepping-stone into eternity, which is all that matters even now.  This broken world is more to be endured than enjoyed.  Indeed, this world and everything about it are an embarrassment to any serious person.

Three, this present experience is brief, non-ultimate and good.  While it lasts, it is to be dignified — not absolutized or despised but dignified — as a gift from God.  This life is a mixture of grace and tragedy, a good creation marred by our human folly.  So, the wise seek the things that are above, where Christ is (Colossians 3:1), and they receive with thanksgiving the good things God gives here and now (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

The first approach is the unbelief of visceral idolatry.  The second approach is the unbelief of pious negativism.  The third approach is wisdom.  It is biblical, humane, sustainable.

Have a good day.


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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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