“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word…
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.
I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.”
Psalms 119:9, 14 – 16
What is the good life? And who has the capacity to define it? Is it a can of Michelob beer on a camping trip? Is it a good cigar? Is it fast cars and fast women? Massive biceps? Enlarged breasts? A full head of hair? Cocaine? The cheer of the crowd? What is the good life?
Among no class of men are these questions more urgently and ardently asked than those who are young. Children and young adults are gifted by God with an appetite to have their questions answered, a desire to find and secure the good life. As they gaze out over the future, they want to know, “What will bring me joy and pleasure in the course of my life?”
Because this is true, Solomon meditates on this very question in the Scripture that we have just read. How can a young man keep his way pure? What is more valuable than riches? Where should one find his or her delight? What is the good life?
At no time in history have the brokers of the good life been more prolific and skilled in their marketing. However, whether the good life is to come through technological advances, organic foods, high protien diets, treatments for balding, or exercise machines, these peddlers never ultimately know that their recipe for the good life will not end in disaster. Finite creatures are unable to identify what is genuinely good for them. for how do we know, infallibly, that some trend we have jumped on today will bring joy and happiness in the end? As Solomon reminds us elsewhere,“There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it is the way of death.” We are not omniscient and so we are unable, as humans, to identify the good life. The most that we can identify on our own is what brings momentary happiness or pleasure. But we can never be sure whether these momentary pleasures will bring devastating consequences in the future. One thinks of the radical reversal that has come in the last century over smoking cigarretes. Once admired as the mark of the debutant, the rich and famous, the discovery of its ill effects has relegated it to the addictive pasttime of the down and out. So how do you know that the microwave popcorn you’ve been sneaking after the kids go to bed won’t prove your undoing?
Do we then have no hope in the world? Must we live our lives in constant uncertainty, blown about by every scheme for the good life that fills the Sunday paper? Are our youth unable to answer the questions which they most hunger to know? Are we left without a sure foundation?
No – Solomon gives it to us. God has defined the good life. And because He is omniscient, He knows all the end roads, all the results of various actions. He knows that homosexuality is destructive; knows that sexual immorality saps one of character and strength; knows that life is more than what enters the belly; knows that humans can have no greater pleasure than when we find our satisfaction in Him. And the glorious thing is that He has revealed all of this to us in His Word. We can know what the good life is – for the Creator of all has revealed it to us and makes life understandable and meaningful as a result.
Despite the clarity of God’s revelation, however, we often spurn His revelation. Attempting to run our lives on our own sense of what is good and right, we find ourselves repeating the sin of our First Mother who, judging for herself, saw that the tree was pleasant to the eyes and desireable to make one wise. She spurned the Word of God in favor of her own intellect.
Reminded of our failure to rely upon the Word of the Lord and our tendency to trust in our own wisdom and wit, let us confess our sins together – first privately and then using the public confession found in your bulletin. Let us kneel as we confess together.