Ecclesiastes 5:15, 16
As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labor…
Even when we have been long looking for the departure of one whose powers as well as his days are spent, his death, when it does come, makes a great difference to us. Between life at its lowest and death there is a great and felt interval. How much more must this be the case to the departed himself! What a difference to him between this life and that to which he goes! Perhaps less than we imagine, yet doubtless very great. The text suggests to us -
I. WHAT WE MUST LEAVE BEHIND US AT DEATH.
1. Our worldly goods. This is an obvious fact, which painfully impressed the Preacher (text), and which comforted the psalmist (Psalm 49:16, 17). It is a fact that should make the wise less careful to acquire and to save.
2. Our reputation. The reputation for wisdom or folly, for integrity or dishonesty, for kindness or severity, which our life has been building up, death cannot destroy, through whatever experiences we may then pass. We must be content to leave that behind to be associated with our name in the memories of men, for their benediction or for their reproach.
3. The influence for good or evil we have exerted on human souls. These we cannot remove, nor can we stay to deepen or to counteract them; they are our most important legacies.
II. WHAT WE MAY LEAVE BEHIND US.
1. A wise disposition of our property. A sagacious statesman once said that he never quite made up his mind about his neighbor's character until he had seen his will. What disposition we make of that we leave behind is a very serious act of our life; there are very few single acts so serious.
(1) It is usually a good thing for a man to dispose of a large proportion of all that he has earned during his life when he is here to superintend it.
(2) It is criminally careless to cause additional sorrow at death by negligence in the matter of disposition of means.
(3) The kindest thing we can do for our relatives is not to provide absolutely for their wants, but to facilitate their own self-support.
2. Wise counsels to those who will heed them. There are usually those who will pay Meat regard to the wishes of the dying, apart from any "legal instructions." We may leave with those we love such recommendations as shall save them from grave mistakes, and guide them to good and happy courses.
3. A valued testimony to the power and preciousness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
III. WHAT WE MAY TAKE WITH US.
1. Our faith in Jesus Christ; that settled attitude of the soul toward him which is one of trustfulness and love, which determines our place in the kingdom of God (John 3:15, 16, 18, 36).
2. Our Christian life - its record in the heavenly chronicles; that Christian service which, in its faithfulness-or its imperfection, will gain for us the larger or the smaller measure of our Lord's approval (Luke 19:16-19).
3. Qualification, gained by steadfastness, patience, zeal, for the sphere which "the righteous Judge" will award us and will have ready for us. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.