CARPE DIEM, ENJOY LIFE
By João Marcos Bezerra (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Translated by Talyta Rolim
Base Text: Ec 11.8 – 12.7 (NIV version)
If you already know this phrase and hear it what goes on in your head? Carpe Diem is a Latin phrase, written a poem by Horace, Roman poet and philosopher who lived shortly before Christ, it means, "reap the day" or "seize the moment". Prof. Keating, character played by Robin Williams in the movie “Dead Poets Society”, 1989, also recited it in the following sentence: "Carpe, carpe diem, reap the day boys, make your lives extraordinary."
When you hear the term "enjoy the moment”, what do you think? By reading the Bible book of Ecclesiastes, I realized that the king and wise Solomon makes this call to his readers: "However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all" (v. 8). But, before you go out to get drunk, pick up every girl or boy, hook up with whoever you want and enjoy a life without rules, look at the life of King Solomon first!
We can say that he had everything to enjoy life well. Had a lot of wisdom and knowledge (2 Chronicles 1.11,12). The Lord appeared to him twice (1 Kings 3 and 9). He built a vast empire, great power and immense fame and fortune with several servants at his disposal (Ecclesiastes 2.4-9). Had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:3). All this is the dream of many people! I am not so sure about the latter. One woman is enough, please! (lol)
Although the Sage had it all, he was a lousy father, his son Rehoboam was more foolish than a donkey (1 Kings 12.1-19), was unfaithful to his beloved Shulamite (1 Kings 11:3), became vain for his wealth and wisdom (1 Kings 10), and denied the law of the Lord and walked away from God (1 Kings 11). All this led him to ruin! That is why we see a book written with so much "frustration" by a king already "old" (between 56 and 58 years - currently this is not even the best age). "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."(1.2b).
In the base text Solomon calls the youth to follow the desires of their hearts (v. 9), to turn away from the anxiety and suffering (v.10) and to remember the Creator before old age and death (v.1-7). Moreover, throughout Ecclesiastes, he recommends everyone to manage their time well (3.1), to enjoy the rewards of their work (3.22), to seek wisdom and knowledge with balance (7.11,12) and to remember that God judge all man’s deeds with no distinction (3.17, 11.9).
So, simply enjoy life is not to miss the opportunities, enjoy every moment with good company and lots of fun, spend time on what is really necessary and worthy of investment, enjoy their own work, and especially fear the Lord.
Some may find the example of Solomon; or that the Carpe Diem is another hedonistic concept; or even be influenced by ecclesiastical traditionalism, by the church, which conditioned Christians to follow rules, many unbiblical, but human, and they might find the term Carpe Diem very dangerous. - "Ah! This can lead people to do what they want ". However, remember the advice of the Sage ("However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all") and the words of Professor Keating ("make your lives extraordinary").
SO, WHY ENJOY LIFE?!
1. God created the Earth for man enjoy it
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and cultivate it "(Gen. 2:15). Garden of Eden refers to the world. All there is on earth is for the man to enjoy. God did not create man to nature; it was the reverse. Unfortunately, because the fall of the man "to enjoy" was replaced by "to devastate" and by "to preserve". These two distortions lead to two opposites: extract everything that nature can contribute to human wealth or defend it as a greater good than the man himself.
So, we need to understand that the vast natural wealth serves to be fully enjoyed by the man. All that nature provides is our God-given right, but we cannot extract everything without replacement and / or inadequate infrastructure. God created the earth for man to enjoy it!
2. God created man as a relational being
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor" (Ecclesiastes 4:9). We live surrounded by people: family, friends, boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé (e), spouse, colleagues, acquaintances etc. Each person requires our attention, respect and love. However, we are indoctrinated to be individualistic. When we apply to individualism, we often despise others, turn people away from us and isolate ourselves. With this, we suffer with loneliness, depression and unhappiness.
Why do many relationships, including marriages end up so fast? Why do so many friends become enemies? Why do parents and children fight? Why God is not worshiped for who He is, but for what He can offer? Because each person seeks their own desires and dreams at the expense of others! They disregard those who are around them and love themselves as their sole master. But, it was not why God created us. Jesus said: "Love the Lord, your God and similarly your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12.30,31) and "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:43.) We need to understand that it is a necessity to maintain our relationships with people. God created man to maintain healthy relationships.
3. God is glorified when we bear fruits
"My Father is glorified, when you bear much fruit" (John 15:8). Let's use the syllogism! We glorify God when we bear fruit. How to fructify?! Maintaining a relationship with Him and reaching people with the Gospel of the Kingdom. How to do this? Through our testimonies. How do we testify? Being imitators of Christ, as beloved children. What did Jesus do to be imitated? Seized the opportunities of life. Therefore, we can say that God is glorified when we take life's opportunities.
Jesus is the best example of someone who took his time well. Just look what He did in just three years of ministry. Moreover, He also leaves his example in relationships, in love for people, in the use of wisdom, in dependence on God, for good deeds and discipline. So if we are changed into the same image of Christ, by the Spirit of Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18), how do we show this transformation if not taking advantage of the opportunities? We need to understand that fructify is enjoying life and God is glorified in it.
SO, HOW CAN WE ENJOY LIFE?
1. Understand why enjoy life
Understand that God created the Earth so that we fully enjoy it; God created us to relate with Him and with one another and God is glorified when we fructify and seize opportunities in life. This first tip will help to know our rights as human beings and our duty as creature and child of God. As we have already addressed this earlier, I will not go back to it anymore.
2. Maintain healthy relationships
"Each of us should please his neighbor for their good, to build them up" (Romans 15:2)
Beyond what we've talked earlier about healthy relationships, I want to add the following conclusion: a relationship is healthy when there is mutual edification, that is, when people involved in the relationship contribute to mutual growth.
I see there are many romances and friendships full of jealousy, where one does not like to share the boyfriend/girlfriend and friend with others. Remember that jealousy is the work of the flesh as reported in Galatians 5! It has a very great danger in this type of relationship because one partner tries to keep the other isolated from family, friends and brothers, making him an "island", in which will only be the two of them. Herein, the false lover or friend puts the “claws" out and mistreat the helpless. If the person is engaged or is profoundly weak to withstand the pressures, because he is alone, others suffer in the hand of the executioner.
Therefore, I give this second tip for enjoying life: keep healthy relationships and move away from anyone trying to isolate you from those who love you. This person is extremely dangerous!
3. Seek wisdom and knowledge with balance
"How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for wisdom is more profitable than silver and yields more than gold" (Proverbs 3.13,14). "So I struggled to understand the wisdom and madness and folly, but I learned that this is also chasing after the wind. For greater wisdom, greater suffering; and the more knowledge, the more grief. "(Ecclesiastes 1:17-18)
In the first text, Solomon encourages us to seek wisdom and knowledge to achieve happiness. In the second he says that his effort to understand the wisdom, madness and folly is useless and that the more wisdom and knowledge, greater is the suffering and grief. This is a contradiction, isn't it? Of course not! Solomon is being friendly!
Indeed the wise person makes a difference in society and can enjoy life more, but the Sage wanted to go beyond wisdom, he wanted to understand it. This is not possible because only God understands it. He also sought to increase the wisdom and knowledge he possessed, but it also increased his responsibility. More people sought him to resolve their issues. Which made his wisdom become, to some extent, a burden to Solomon. Who works well feeling heavy and overloaded? I believe anybody!
Then, the third tip is that instead of letting the wisdom and knowledge overcome us, we must seek them with balance to enjoy a life as God intended for us.
4. Learn to manage your time
"To everything there is a certain occasion; There is a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3.1)
Throughout chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes God states that He has appointed a certain period for each stage in the life cycle, i.e., the Lord made the time at the right time for us to live and seize every important moment. Because of sin, things lost its true meanings and man learned to include in his everyday unimportant things and make them a priority. Therein we lost track of time.
How many have ever heard or said: "I do not have time for this?" In fact, we have this bad habit, but what we really need is to learn to manage our time. We need to raise awareness that the 24 hours given by God is enough to do what is necessary. Organize our agenda and our priorities would be the first step for an efficient administration. This is the fourth tip for enjoying life.
5. Prioritize what is really priority
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Mt 6:33)
There is an ancient understanding that when the Bible says "seek first the kingdom of God" means that we must put God first in our lives. That is correct! In addition, there is an interpretation that makes us think that we build a hierarchy between God, family, friends, work, school, church, ministry, and other necessary areas. This is wrong!
When we build a hierarchy, we treat all areas of life separately. Therein, tasks that I do for God are separated from family, fraternal, labor, academic and church activities; as well as family from the fraternal etc.. So, the correct understanding is that God does not want us to build a hierarchy, where He is the first place, but that He is included in all vital processes.
From there, who prioritize God will put Him in all aspects of life: family, friendships, work, studies and church. Here it is important to think that life is not full of independent "boxes", but, in fact, is a tangle of interconnected wires, in which each factor depends on the other. Do not think about your job without it not being connected to your family. Do not think about your family, your work, your studies, your friendships without God included in those areas. Then, the fifth tip is precisely this: prioritize what is really priority - God.
6. Fear the Lord and be obedient to Him
"My son, forget not my law, but keep my commandments in heart, for they will prolong your life for many years and give you peace and prosperity." (Prov. 3.1,2). "Now we've heard it all, here is the conclusion: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." (Ecclesiastes 12:13). In these and other passages, we always see: fear God and obey Him. The Lord, through His prophets and poets, like David and Solomon, emphasizes this theme of obedience in the Bible constantly.
In the definition of fear brought by Oxford, we see this: "act or effect of fear; scare; and a mixed feeling of reverence and dread: the fear of God”. This same dictionary makes the caveat that fear is reverence or respect for God: "fear of God". In addition, the concept of obedience extracted from the same dictionary was the following: "submissive to the will of someone; docility; and subjection, dependence". Thus, when I say 'subject to the Lord and be obedient to Him' I mean the following: have respect for the Lord and be obedient to His will. And, I do not say this simply because it is the law, period. No! There is a consequence to this.
As man is selfish by nature there has to be some gain. So this is the gain, 'his days be prolonged and you will prosper.' However, there is another truth: it is part of the essence of the man the need to fear and obey God. That is why we see so many people worshiping an entity (even themselves). Therefore, it is the sixth tip for enjoying life: fear the Lord and be obedient to Him.
7. Abandon the old man once and for all
"As to the former way of life, you were taught to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be renewed in the way of thinking and to put on the new self, created to be like God in righteousness and in holiness from the truth."(Eph 4.22-24)
The old man is that guy with a penchant for fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry), and stuck to hatred, anger, malice, defamation, to swear and lie (Cl 3.5,8,9). The creature to whom Jesus Christ came to set free is this guy. People who understand and accept that are sons and daughters of God and renewed and transformed in Christ should abandon this old man, who is nothing more than the man who is taken before regeneration by the Lord in the conversion and total surrender. Therefore, this is the seventh, the last and most challenging tip: leave the old man behind to enjoy your life.
Finally, before all this understanding of Carpe Diem and these tips to enjoy life, you no longer have to accept the concept that is to enjoy what you want from life. Carpe Diem, guided by Solomon in Ecclesiastes, is nothing more than this: living in every moment of life, enjoying everything in wisdom and fear of God, understanding what God created you for, valuing who you are and what you have, organizing your time, prioritizing what is really necessary and being the one who the Lord created - a new man in Christ. In all this, you will find that your days will be better forever. Amen!
Read text in Portuguese: http://jmarcosbezerra.blogspot.com.br/2012/08/carpe-diem-aproveite-vida.html