“A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume. And the day you die is better than the day you are born. Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time” (Ecclesiastes 7:1-4, NLT).
One commentator suggests, “Solomon was not contrasting birth and death, nor was he suggesting that it is better to die than to be born, because you can’t die unless you have been born. He was contrasting two significant days in human experience: the day a person receives his or her name and the day when that name shows up in the obituary column. The life lived between those two events will determine whether that name leaves behind a lovely fragrance or a foul stench. “His name really stinks!” is an uncouth statement, but it gets the point across” [Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Satisfied (p. 85). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books].
He goes on to propose, “‘Better is the end of a thing than the beginning’ applies when we are living according to God’s wisdom. The beginning of sin leads to a terrible end—death (James 1:13–15), but if God is at the beginning of what we do, He will see to it that we reach the ending successfully (Phil. 1:6; Heb. 12:2). The Christian believer can claim Romans 8:28 because he knows that God is at work in the world, accomplishing His purposes” [Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Satisfied (p. 87). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books].
What does it look like for you to begin with the end in mind? To live according to God’s wisdom?