‘What’s Up Cornerstone?’ I love you guys. Thank you for having me out this weekend in The Valley Of The Sun.
As you mine through the book of Ecclesiastes, in this series called, ‘MORE,’ it’s crazy how the whole thing begins.
‘Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless!’ – Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NLT)
Skimming through the book, we read many statements like chapter 6:12, ‘In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone?’
Is the writer, Solomon, depressed, in a mid-life crisis, or just having a bad day? Unlikely.
He’s searching for meaning while grappling with the obvious, unresolved issues of life.
Ecclesiastes is what we call ‘Wisdom Literature.’ In thoughtful, common sense fashion, Solomon is processing the general outcomes of life ‘under the sun.’ Wisdom is good, but it’s only a guide, not a guarantee.
The rich and the poor, the wise and foolish, those with opportunity and the oppressed, though their life experience may be different, each share the same fate. When life is good, bad things still happen. When wealth increases, the stock market still crashes. No matter how long the weekend is, Monday always comes. Welcome to the mindset of Ecclesiastes.
In his frustration, Solomon tries to find meaning in pleasure and possessions.
Some of his pursuits are worthy, and others are wrong.
Ecclesiastes 2:1, ‘I said to myself, ‘Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.’ But I found that this, too, was meaningless.”
In verses 10 and 11 he writes, ‘Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.’
Reading Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 and hearing of all he pursues, some might shout, ‘HEATHEN! Solomon is a depraved, narcissistic, power-hungry, greedy pleasure addict.’
However, this ‘HEATHEN,’ might be INCREDIBLY HUMAN.
Think for a moment about Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. God told them to subdue the earth, and His tangible presence was with them every day. Adam and Eve had it all and still wondered if more was better. Satan then tempted them where they were vulnerable; a desire for meaning apart from God.
Back to Solomon. Thankfully, he concludes, ‘Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.’ – Ecclesiastes 12:13.
BUT WHAT DO YOU AND I DO ABOUT THIS HUMAN DILEMMA? OUR LONGING FOR MORE AND OUR SEARCH FOR MEANING APART FROM GOD?
Know this and make it personal:
My worth isn’t based on my wealth.
What’s the value of a human soul? The life and blood of the Son of God.
Lasting peace isn’t found through pleasure and possessions.
Jesus is the giver of ultimate peace.
I suggest our longing for more is a gift from God; an invitation to seek Him.
Here’s where we Do Something Simple, but not so easy.
Enjoy the pleasures that are pleasing to God.
Solomon said, ‘Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure.’ – Ecclesiastes 2:10. That may sound fun, but it’s not very healthy.
The reality is that we need to practice Galatians 5:24, ‘Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.’ (NIV)
The list of do’s and don’ts that Scripture gives is probably much shorter than the list religion presents. Let the teachings of the Bible, the leading of the Holy Spirit, and your conscience be your guide. There’s a lot more to say yes to than no. Enjoy the pleasures that are pleasing to God.
Don’t allow our possessions to take the place of God.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 instructs us not to put our trust in wealth, but in the One that richly provides. We’re then challenged to be generous and do good with what we have.
Solomon, in all his frustration, grapples with the obvious, unresolved issues of life. His basic observation seems to be, ‘If all I see is all there is, what’s the point?’ The hardship, disappointment, and tragedy that’s a part of life, at times, seems, as he writes, ‘Meaningless!’
However, there’s more to this than what we see, much more. This makes life meaningful.
Our longing for more is a gift from God. The meaning that’s found through the pursuit of pleasure and possessions quickly fades. Ultimate meaning is found in the finding of our Maker.