We live in a world that is hungry – for wealth, for fame, for power, for pleasure.
People are searching…
And yet, the more they try to get, the more they realize how little they really have.
Almost 3,000 years ago, Solomon spoke about this human dilemma. And yet, because we are all so very human – the insights and applications of his message are relevant and timely today.
I used to think the book of Ecclesiastes was a pretty depressing read – (except for inspiring a catchy little tune from The Byrds in 1965 – "Turn, Turn, Turn.")
Empty, futile, hollow, nothing – the words have a ring of disappointment and disillusionment.
Life is empty, meaningless.
Hey Solomon, way to be Debbie Downer…
But, in the midst of what some might call "gloom and doom," I believe Solomon found truth.
Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" is key:
"So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can…enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him." (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26)
Yes, Solomon was a wise man indeed.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, he takes us on a thoughtful journey through his life – reflecting on an analysis of life's experiences and taking a critical look at the true meaning of life.
I think it's crucial to remember that these are the words of someone who *had it all.* Wealth, fame, power, and pleasure. (Would Solomon be the Bill Gates of our day?)
And in the end, he considered it all meaningless – like chasing the wind.
So, in our verses today, is Solomon giving us the advice to "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die"? Is he recommending that we make life one big, irresponsible party? Hardly.
Solomon's very honest approach has a purpose. All of his remarks are leading us to the one conclusion that he has found to be true – seek fulfillment and happiness in God alone.
He didn't want to destroy our hope, but he desired to direct our hopes to the only One who can truly fulfill them and give our lives meaning. Solomon affirms the value of knowledge, relationships, work, and pleasure – but only in their proper place.
Everything temporal MUST be seen in light of the eternal.
That's the message of today's verses. Without God, satisfaction is a lost search. No pleasure or happiness is possible without Him. The cure for emptiness is to center on God. His love can fill the emptiness of human experience.
So, I'm reflecting on Solomon's message.
There are many things in this life that I enjoy – I'm sure you do, too. Is that wrong? Absolutely not. It's how we view these things – where we think they come from – that dictates a right spirit about their enjoyment.
Everything comes from the hand of God – a God who chooses to give us abundant blessings!
What does the Bible have to say about wealth, fame, power, and pleasure? Quite a lot – but I choose these examples:
Wealth – "'Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.'" (Luke 12:21)
Fame – "Therefore, as the Scriptures say, 'If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.'" (1 Corinthians 1:13)
Power – "Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…" (Philippians 2:9-11)
Pleasure – "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires." (Psalms 37:4)
So, Solomon, what would your message be to us today?
I think maybe this:
Take pleasure in what you’re doing now and enjoy life because it comes from God's hand.
True enjoyment in life comes only as you follow God's guidelines for living.
Take each day as a gift from God, and thank Him for it and serve Him in it.
True satisfaction comes from knowing that what you are doing is part of God's purpose for your life.
When you realize that God will evaluate all you do, you should learn to live wisely.
Above all else, strive to know and love God. He alone is the source of Wisdom.
Without God, all is meaningless – like chasing the wind.
Yup, changing my mind a little about the book of Ecclesiastes. It's a brutally honest book – an unapologetic look at the meaninglessness of life.
But, it's also a book of hope.
Listen to Solomon's final words:
"That's the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone's duty." (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
God – the One who sent His Son, Jesus.
Jesus – the One who promised that He alone is "the way, the truth, and the life."
The One who gives us…
…fullness instead of futility.
…love instead of rejection.
…hope instead of despair.
…salvation instead of condemnation.
…eternity instead of emptiness.
The One who gives us…
"'If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?'"
Are you seeking the things of this world, and hanging onto the things of this life? Is it worth it?
Will you let go?
Seek Him first.
"When in doubt, search God out!"