Sent:  July 8, 2002

Subject:  Live to Learn or Learn to Live

Good Morning Ethan & Emily:

There are two basic approaches we can take to life:  one by which we learn from our own mistakes and another by which we accept what others have learned and then avoid making those mistakes ourselves.  In it’s simplest terms, you might say:  We can “live to learn” or we can “learn to live.”

These two approaches are well represented in the Bible by the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  In Proverbs, the writer begins by declaring:  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Prov. 1:7).  From this statement and others that follow, the writer gives clear advice on how to live life to its fullest.

Solomon acknowledged that same truth when he wrote Ecclesiastes, but here he stated it as a summary statement after many years of living: “here is my final conclusion:  Fear God and obey His commands, for this is the duty of every person” (Eccles. 12:13).

As the richest man in the world at that time, Solomon had every resource at his command, and he pursued meaning in life thru pleasure, his work, and thru earthly wisdom and understanding.  He found that no pleasure or happiness is possible without God, and he made many mistakes and went down many “dead-end” roads to finally arrive at his conclusion.

He says this about education:  “I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven…but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind” (Ecccles. 1:13-17).  About pleasure:  “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure” (1:10a).

He “poured himself” into his work and profession:  “My heart took delight in all my work and this was the reward for all my labor.  Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind….” (Eccles. 2:10b-11).

He accumulated wealth…more than ever before seen in all of history but stated:  “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.  This too is meaningless” (5:10).

So…each of us must decide whether we will learn from others…and primarily from the truths in God’s Word…so that we can “learn to live” or we can decide that we will go after life on our own and “live to learn.”  The first approach will spare you many heartaches and disappointments as you journey on the “high road.”  Taking the second approach may bring it’s fair share of “thrills” but it will be fraught with many falls and pain as you learn the “hard way” what brings blessing and fulfillment.

God has shared His Word with us as an expression of His love to help us live life to the max.  In it we have all the “keys” to life we need.  Read your Bible daily…take God’s advice…and “Learn to live…not live to learn.” 

Let’s heed God’s commandments and live life to its fullest and best!

All my love,