A Balanced Life
Ecclesiastes 5:15 As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, To go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor Which he may carry away in his hand. 16 And this also is a severe evil-- Just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what profit has he who has labored for the wind? 17 All his days he also eats in darkness, And he has much sorrow and sickness and anger. 18 Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. 19 As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor--this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart. (NKJV)
Solomon, son of David, was the king of Israel for some forty years from 970 B.C. until his death at the age of fifty-nine in 931 B.C. He wrote the book of Ecclesiastes likely near the end of his life, about 935 B.C.
Solomon, being the son of a king, had received the best education known to man at the time. He learned the best of human wisdom. He also was blessed by God with true wisdom, the wisdom from God. He was considered to be the wisest man ever to live.
In the preceding passage, Solomon wrote of those who have been blessed with wealth, but have decided to hoard their wealth instead of using it to do good. When this person dies he takes “nothing” with him (v. 15). This is a “severe evil”, a sin (v. 16). He leaves the world with no “profit” for all his hard work.
He could have stored up treasures in Heaven by doing good works with his money instead of hoarding it. That is his sin. He leaves this world with nothing and also does not have rewards awaiting him in Heaven, even if he gets there. That is the consequence of his sin.
Not only has he forfeited his rewards in Heaven, but he has also forfeited enjoyment of his life on earth. He has spent his days totally absorbed by his work. He has taken meals “in darkness”, as he gets home late at night and eats alone because he has either not taken the time to have a family or they have already gone to bed (v. 17a).
Not only that, he is susceptible to “much sorrow and sickness and anger” as he struggles to earn his wealth and even more so to hold on to his wealth (v. 17b). He has “sorrow” from broken and fractured relationships due to the demands of his work. He has “sickness” from working much too hard. He has “anger” from the stress of his work and the family that he has neglected.
In his wisdom, Solomon concludes that it is better to live a balanced life. Man is better off if he takes time to “enjoy the good of all his labor”, the fruits of his labor (v. 18a). This is his “heritage”, his lot in life (v. 18b).
It is the “gift of God” to be given “riches and wealth”, the “power to eat of it”, “to receive his heritage”, and to “rejoice in his labor” (v. 19). It is a life where he enjoys his downtime with loved ones, and also his work.
He will not regret his life (v. 20a). He will be too busy enjoying the “joy of his heart” (v. 20b), a life full of satisfying free time and satisfying work.
A balanced life is one of balancing time between God, our family, and our work. First we should take time for our relationship with God. This involves church, daily prayer, and daily Bible reading. We should also take time for family activities and, of course, for work.
A balanced life is also one of balancing our resources, our money, between God, our family, and savings. It is not God’s will to hoard our money. Some is to be used to store up treasure in Heaven by giving to church or parachurch ministries such as this one. Some is to be used for family activities and needs. Some is to be used for savings, for a rainy day and retirement.
A balanced life is God’s gift to us. It is a life that we will not regret, in this life and in the one to come.
Online Bible Commentary