You Only Live Once.

Anyone who is among the living has hope —even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! – Eccl. 9:4 NIV

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The biblical book of Ecclesiastes is known by many as the book of wisdom, as practically every paragraph in the twelve chapter book contains a wise saying or an advise that will always improve the life of anyone who choose to operate in them.


The ninth chapter of this great book of wisdom, opens with a very profound and sober comment on the fate that awaits one who chooses to live a good life as against the one who chooses not to. According to him, life does not discriminate between the one who loves another and the one who hates as they both share a common destiny of death. What is obvious to all is the fact that the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not, still end up departing this realm at some point – Eccl. 9:1-2.


The frustration of the writer of this scripture is revealed when he describes this common destiny as an evil in everything that happens under the sun – Eccl. 9:3. With the heart of men filled with evil and madness, he simply could not live with the thought that all eventually die and there seems to be no special advantage in this realm, for the one who strives to do good. He reminds all that there is nothing to look forward to after dying as man cannot activate any desire or does not possess any ability to do anything, once he departs this realm. In the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional, he states that as powerful as a lion may be, all its potential is lost once it is dead, as even a living dog has more chances of achievements than it has, at that stage – Eccl. 9:4. Same is for man as once he dies, there is nothing to aspire to again.


The living though may be aware that they will die but the dead have nothing to look forward to again because even the memory of all their achievements and all their acts of love, hate and jealousy are soon forgotten and they soon become irrelevant to anything that happens under the sun – Eccl. 9:5-6.


Since this is the reality, the wise man gives the following advise to the one that is still living. You will be wise to take his advise as listed below;

  1. Eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you are doing – Eccl. 9:7. Seeking joy and gladness from any other source will only lead to sadness and frustration for you, and not heeding the advise of the wise one above will only end up being your loss. As far as he is concerned, since the Jehovah it is, that gave all those items to you, they are supposed to be used by you in a manner that will be bring you joy and gladness. Not doing that will just be your loss and there will be no one to blame.
  2. You should always be clothed in white – Eccl. 9:8a. Even while getting joy and gladness out of all those things that Jehovah has provided for you, there is need to ensure that you do not get involved in acts that will spiritually contaminate or stain your soul. All efforts should be made to maintain spiritual purity amidst all the joy and gladness that you are having in this world.
  3. Always anoint your head with oil – Eccl. 9:8b. Your head is the symbol of your power, authority and honour. To anoint it regularly is to ensure that you conduct yourself in a manner that will continue to enhance these values in you, while avoiding completely acts that will devalue you before God and man.
  4. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days – Eccl. 9:9. What a way to describe the existence of man but it remains the hard truth. Your entire life is indeed meaningless when all you can possess for ever, among all that you have struggled to have in this realm, is what you take in or enjoy, as every other acquisition is lost, once the inevitable death comes knocking. He suggested that the company of a wife will also add to the fun you can get in this world, that is if she is the one you love.
  5. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom – Eccl. 9:10. Do all that you can do with all those knowledge, planning skills and wisdom that you have, to the best of your ability, as that may just be the only opportunity to prove who you are or what you are capable of. As you may well be aware, that may just be the only memory that the people you leave behind, after your departure, will have of you.


The writer of this scripture makes it clear that all the above is the lot of all men in life and in all their toilsome labor under the sun. If only men will take to this honest advise of the wise one, as this remains the stark reality of life. Man needs to remember at all times that they will only live this life once and the Almighty God has no plan for anyone to live it in sadness. He has placed in the life of every individual all that is required to live a life full of gladness and joy. That sadness in your life is definitely not part of his plan for your life. It may be true that some negative minded people have introduced that sadness but the bulk of the blame for the sadness that you are experiencing lies with you and could have been avoided if you had followed the simple advise of the wise one.


That joy and gladness may have attracted antagonists because you were not sensitive sufficiently to know how it negatively impacted on people around you. You probably did not even conduct yourself in a manner that will bring honour to your head and help you to retain your authority. You probably have chosen to live your life with someone that will not bring you joy and gladness just as your lack of progress in life may be due to the manner in which you approached all those tasks that came your way.


Before seeking the external enemies, look inwards and search for the internal enemy that is in you. You may discover that the solution to all those challenges will be in adjusting to living a life guided by these wise sayings. You have a very short time to spend in this realm. Do not sentence yourself to a life of misery and pain as you will only have yourself to blame. May God grant us all the wisdom to live our lives in joy and gladness in Jesus name. Amen.

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