Penned by King Solomon near the end of his life, Ecclesiastes is a poignant book of reflection. “Vanity of vanities!” he writes, and you can almost hear his world-weary tone. Yet, in these brief chapters, he also writes of hope, joy, and how to find meaning in your life. In 2019, his words are as fresh and applicable as in centuries gone by.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”
Life is lot like surfing an ocean wave. One day, you’re riding the crest and feeling on top of the world. The next, you’re plunged into a trough and struggle to keep your head above water. We all go through times of joy and sorrow, success and failure, light and darkness.
Perhaps you’re in one of those “struggle” seasons. Instead of longing for the next season, learn to embrace the one God has given you today. Compared to eternity, each season only lasts a brief moment. And it will be worth it all when we see Jesus.
“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.”
Throughout the centuries, ascetics have (incorrectly) taught that physical comforts are wrong. They slept on beds of nails or lived atop poles, hoping to atone for their sins. Many ascetics lived a celibate life, fasted for lengthy periods, and denied themselves physical comforts. According to their teachings, denial of self is necessary to develop spirituality. Ascetics can be found in both Christian and Buddhist history.
Yet God never taught us that pleasure is wrong or that earthly comforts should be rejected. First Timothy 6:17 tells us to, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” And Philippians 4:5 teaches us, “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” According to New Testament Christianity, we are to enjoy pleasures regulated by self-control and moderation.
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.”
As our culture moves away further away from traditional family relationships, its foundations are crumbling. When the family is divided, and each member lives independently, it is vulnerable to spiritual attack. People are waiting longer and longer to marry, preferring the independence and self-centred focus of the single life.
Yet, according to the Bible, marriage is God’s plan for most people. As Christians, we should take marriage seriously and support others in their marriage. If we are married, we should love, honour, and respect our spouses. Marriage is important to God—and it should be to us, too.
“Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.”
Talent, strength, and ability do not guarantee that anyone will be successful. Rather, we should seek wisdom from God’s Word. Wisdom is defined as “the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments.” (Cambridge English Dictionary) Humans are not born with wisdom, as any parent of toddlers can verify. Rather, wisdom must be learned.
The Bible tells us how we can gain wisdom.
Fear God- “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7)
Ask- “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)
Seek it- “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)
Listen to good counsellors- “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:” (Proverbs 1:5)
Read God’s Word- “For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6)
When you seek and obey God’s wisdom, you will reap the benefits in your life.
“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.”
In this life, there are many things which we do not understand. Yet we can pillow our weary heads on the truth that God is in control. Nothing surprises Him or escapes His notice. Not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without Him. He is watching over us with love and tenderness, and we can trust Him to work on our behalf.
No, we are not in control of this uncertain life. But our Father is, and we can trust Him.
Have you read the book of Ecclesiastes before? And which of these truths was your favourite? We’d love to hear in the comments!
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