“What are your hobbies?”
When asked this question for the first time in an interview setting (nearly two decades ago), I must admit: I didn’t see the point. Yes, I was prepped for this question, but I couldn’t see why it mattered. At the time, I didn’t think of the life in Christ as having earthly enjoyment.
Yet, here I was being asked about hobbies—things that bring me enjoyment. What was the point? Is there something we’re supposed to do bringing us happiness between the points of conversion and going home to be with Jesus?
Among many other places, King Solomon of Israel offers an answer in Ecclesiastes 9:3-10:
3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten. 6 Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.
7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
As stated last week, death is the ultimate injustice to humanity. There is a deeply seated part of our hearts violently resisting death. We know it’s not right and unfair.
Yet, no matter what we do, death wins.
We can try to outrun it. We can try to medicate it away. We can endure surgeries and procedures trying to push it off. At the end, however, death still wins.
The living know this, Solomon writes (verse 5), and because we know this, we should embrace it. Does that mean we should live fatalistically and just sit back and wait for death to pounce on us? Not at all! Scripture does not call us to be fatalists but to be faithful.
Verses 7-10 present the most thorough announcement to enjoy the lives we possess. While some might try to take this to extreme measures and advocate hedonism, most commentators bind these verses to the context of Ecclesiastes and the Old Testament Law which forms the foundation for these verses.
Far from a hedonist, self-centered indulgence, Solomon reminds us pleasure in our life is a gift from God. The Lord doesn’t give us these pleasures to destroy ourselves. Instead, He gives them to us as a generous act of grace for our enjoyment.
So do our hobbies matter? Should we find enjoyment? Yes. And yes. For the record, my hobbies include spending time with my wife and children, grilling and cooking, reading, and watching movies. These things make me happy. Dear one in Christ, enjoy your life to the fullest in complete contentment because God is still God and we are still His children.