You don't need unlimited resources to find happiness. In fact, you already have what you need to experience it.
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Ecclesiastes 2 (ESV)
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.”
But behold, this also was vanity.
2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,”
and of pleasure, “What use is it?”
3 I searched
with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—
my heart still guiding me with wisdom—
and how to lay hold on folly,
till I might see what was good for the children of man
to do under heaven
during the few days of their life.
made great works.
I built houses
and planted vineyards for myself.
5 I made myself gardens and parks,
and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees.
6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees.
bought male and female slaves,
and had slaves who were born in my house.
I had also great possessions of herds and flocks,
more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem.
8 I also gathered for myself
silver and gold
and the treasure of kings and provinces.
I got singers,
both men and women,
and many concubines,
the delight of the sons of man.
9 So I
and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem.
Also my wisdom remained with me.
10 And whatever my eyes desired
I did not keep from them.
I kept my heart from no pleasure,
for my heart found pleasure in all my toil,
and this was my reward for all my toil.
11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it,
and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind,
and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly.
what can the man do who comes after the king?
Only what has already been done.
13 Then I saw
that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly,
as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
14 The wise person has his eyes in his head,
but the fool walks in darkness.
And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them.
15 Then I said in my heart,
“What happens to the fool will happen to me also.
Why then have I been so very wise?”
And I said in my heart that this also is vanity.
16 For of the wise as of the fool
there is no enduring remembrance,
seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten.
How the wise dies just like the fool!
17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.
18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun,
seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me,
19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool?
Yet he will be master of all
for which I toiled
and used my wisdom under the sun.
This also is vanity.
20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun,
21 because sometimes
a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill
must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it.
This also is vanity and a great evil.
22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?
all his days are full of sorrow,
and his work is a vexation.
Even in the night his heart does not rest.
This also is vanity.
24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.
This also, I saw, is from the hand of God,
25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?
to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy,
but to the sinner he has given
the business of gathering and collecting,
only to give to one who pleases God.
This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
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Ecclesiastes 2 Summary
Yesterday's post defines some of the key words in Ecclesiastes, which make it much easier to understand.
The Preacher, who is based on the life, work and writings of King Solomon, like many middle aged men before and after him, is trying to make sense of the world, and he's not having much luck.
Most people don't have the unlimited resources necessary to fully immerse themselves in the pleasures of life, but King Solomon had the resources and so he did whatever his eyes desired (v10).
Yet even after building great things, eating the best foods, and amassing massive amounts of possessions, Solomon found that there was nothing to be gained under the sun (v11).
You probably won't be able to come anywhere close to being able match the means with which Solomon had to work with. So if he couldn't find happiness or fulfilment, this chapter might lead you to conclude that finding meaning is life is simply hopeless - a chasing after the wind (v11, 17, 26).
But don't miss the two key statements in this verse that tell you exactly where enjoyment is to be found.
First, learn to enjoy your work:
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil (v24)
In other words, slow down and celebrate the good things your job provides: both the food it brings you (whether it's top shelf food or bread & water really doesn't matter), and the fulfillment that doing your job well gives you. Too often we race past these things looking for something 'better.'
Second, keep things in perspective.
So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me... (v17)
For as wise and successful as what King Solomon was, it was his lack of understanding life above the sun that was his downfall. He thought that the here and now was all that there is.
But you know differently. You know that the work you do in this world is under a curse (Gen 3:17), and full enjoyment of your work will always be just out of reach.
But you also know that the curse has been broken by your Savior who is coming again to make all things new, and that even the broken work you do now can be done to honor and glorify Him.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father in heaven, above the sun
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will be able to enjoy your work and the benefits it provides.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: