Our Days are Numbered
- The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psm. 90:10, 12)
Preparation of Youth. There is “a time for every purpose under heaven, a time to be born, and a time to die” (Ecc. 3:1-2). Our life began with the “time to be born” and the explosive growth and development that quickly followed. These were the priceless days for us to lay our foundation. Ideally, we were raised “in the training and admonition of the Lord” and we gave “honor” to “father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise” (Eph. 6:2, 4).
This is how Jesus numbered the days of His youth. “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Lk. 2:52). He chose to “remember now your Creator in the days of your youth.” He knew “it is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.” (Eccl. 12:1; Lam. 3:27). As Jesus advanced in stature (grew up), He also increased in wisdom, knowing: “wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom” (Pr. 4:7). He also advanced in favor with God. Every decision was based on pleasing and honoring Him. The doors into sin that temptation created for Him were never opened. At the age of 30 in the prime of His life, Jesus was prepared to do God’s will.
To properly number our days, we must follow that example. We too must increase in wisdom and in favor with God, carefully considering the consequences of every choice we make. Every temptation leads to doors that are very difficult to close later. Once “the pleasures of sin” are experienced we will fight these “youthful lusts” the rest of our lives.
Prime of Life. As we enter the Prime of Life, we build on the foundation we laid in our youth. Like a relay race, some are further ahead because of their good choices, while others must struggle to catch up because they did not number those days. It is now the time to marry and to have children. It is time to choose an employer and develop the skills that will create self-esteem and honor. In all of this we serve God as the ten-talent man who gained ten more talents from his efforts. God told us to “rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.” (Eccl. 11:9). It is knowing we will be brought into judgment that leads us to number our days and use them wisely.
If we want to look back with joy for our accomplishments and not with sorrow for the days we squandered, we must number our days. One of the best ways to do this is to listen to God’s wisdom: It is “better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart” (Eccl. 7:2). What we take to heart, we number and gain a heart of wisdom.
Days of Darkness. The prime of life slowly gives way to the Days of Darkness, when we will say “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecc. 11:8-9; 12:1). These are the days when life becomes memories of the past, the time when having numbered our days becomes the most important thing to us. To look back with joy on days we have lived and to look forward with anticipation to standing before God is a great blessing. Because we properly numbered our days we are now prepared to meet our God.
Conclusion. No matter where we are in life, and no matter how many regrets we might have for the past, God promises through the gospel it is never too late to change as long as we live. We can be forgiven for what we have squandered, still serve God, and make each day as productive as possible. Paul, “the chief of sinners,” had much to regret. Yet he still numbered his days: “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Phil. 3:13). It is never too late! Mistakes and regrets of yesterday can lead to the victories and success of tomorrow!