Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. (Ecclesiastes 12:12b)
This might be one of my favourite Bible verses. I’m in Year 12, and over this year have occasionally quoted it to my teachers as they hand out worksheets, assessment task notifications and exam timetables. The lazy side of me loves this, especially in the days before my final exams; the Bible seems to be saying I don’t have to do schoolwork!
But just like any Bible verse, we have to take this in context. Ecclesiastes is written by “The Teacher”. He takes a look back at his life - he’s tried everything; wisdom, pleasure, work, technology, money, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. (Okay, so maybe not those last ones.) And yet, in Chapter 1, verse 14, he says
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
The word used in the original Hebrew is 'hebel' (no, I don’t speak Hebrew, I picked this up at KYCK convention a few years ago!). It literarily means “like a breath”. Everything in this world is like a breath; it doesn’t last forever. Our wealth, our wisdom, our world, will fade away. Only the things of the Lord last into eternity.
Focus on what's most important
The further you progress in high school, the busier it seems to get! It’s hard to get a balance between assessments, study, homework, keeping fit, playing sport, learning a musical instrument and hanging out with friends.
Yet all these things are a chasing after the wind. They might be beneficial and enjoyable now, yet one day they’ll all pass away. So let’s focus on the heavenly things. In the midst of the busyness of high school, let’s remember to read God’s word, speak to him in prayer, serve him through our churches and in our lives, and encourage each other.
As the Teacher says in Chapter 12:
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them.
Keep your eyes on the future
As I spend these last days studying for my final school exams, I want to do my best in them. Yet I am also reassured by the fact that there is more to life; Jesus died to save me, and I can look forward to eternity with him.
So, by all means study hard, do your best, get a good grade and enjoy learning. But true wisdom will know life is about more than just passing exams. In Psalm 11, verse 10, it says
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
Ecclesiastes concludes with the one thing we can do in this world which is not ‘meaningless’:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Remember, your salvation doesn’t depend on whether you pass that English exam. God’s love for you doesn’t depend on your final results.
God’s got your future completely under control. Let’s keep our eyes on heaven, and the glory that is to come!