ODJ: deadly perspective

September 15, 2015 

READ: Ecclesiastes 7:1-14 

A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time (v.4).

During the Middle Ages, some monks kept a skull on their desks to remind them of their mortality and eventual death. The bony paperweight was a vivid reminder that life is fleeting and that they needed to keep their priorities in line.

While the monks’ practice of staring at skulls and keeping their deaths ever before them seems depressing, both the psalmist and the teacher connect the practice of considering the fleeting nature of life with gaining true wisdom (Ecclesiastes 7:4). The psalmist prayed, “Teach us to realise the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (90:12). So does that mean we should be morbid and depressed all the time? No, the exact opposite!

The wisdom of remembering how little time we have on this earth enables us to love and cherish others and to be grateful for the moments we share with them (Ecclesiastes 7:2). Remembering our death can motivate us to celebrate life and to make good choices, to accept God’s plans and the things He allows to enter our lives (vv.13-14). Ideally, the practice of remembering the brevity of our lives will guide us in filtering out what’s important from what is not. It should drive us to Jesus and experiencing the abundant life He has provided to flow in and through us (John 10:10).

Have we been unwisely and perhaps ungratefully using our precious time on things that don’t really matter—that are “meaningless”? (Ecclesiastes 7:6). Instead, since we don’t know how many days we’ve been given, let’s ask ourselves, “What will we do with the life God has given us today?” For as James reminds us, “[Our] life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:14). Now that’s perspective.

—Marlena Graves

365-day-plan: John 14:15-31

Read Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and consider what Moses said about life and death. 
What impact has the brevity of life been having on your priorities? How can thinking about death be good or bad?