Day 68 – A Meaningful Ending

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

This whole book has led to this climactic conclusion and leaves us with Solomon’s conclusion of his meaningless quest for a meaningful life. His experiment to find meaning under the sun led him to throw huge parties, empty vineyards for these parties, marry 700 women, hook up with 300 concubines, build forests, build houses (notice not one, but countless amount of houses) own everything in this world, and his conclusion was that it was meaningless. After all was said and done, Solomon wants to leave us with two foundational truths – fear God and keep his commandments.

So what does it mean to fear God? Does this mean we are to fear God like we fear scary movies? Are we to fear God like children (and some adults) fear the bogeyman? Absolutely not! John Piper puts it like this: “The fear of God is the fear of straying from him. Therefore it expresses itself in taking refuge in God.” Anytime someone encountered God in the Bible, they fell on their face. Not because he was scary, but because he demanded awe and respect. If I stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon, I’m going to be both scared and in awe. The awe is in its glory and beauty, and the fear is in that this thing can go wrong for me if I take one more step. The awe, beauty and majesty of the Grand Canyon draws nearly 5 million people a year. That’s what awe does – it draws you to the majestic power of God, knowing that he is going to take care of you.

The other truth that Solomon leaves us with is that we are to keep God’s commandments. In other words, be obedient to what Jesus is telling you to do. This isn’t delayed obedience, because delayed obedience is half obedience and half obedience is disobedience. When the Bible gives us clear commandments as believers, we are not to believe that someone else will take care of it, we are to do it. Knowing that God loves us should lead us to obey his commandments trusting that He is going to take care of us.

Two things that I want everyone to know that will bring meaning to your life – Fear God and keep his commandments. When these two fundamental truths are applied to your life, you will begin to walk in a deeper level of what God has for you.

“You and I must be willing to do what God tells us, as God tells us, when God tells us, because God tells us, but only strong faith will be equal to such complete obedience.” – Charles Spurgeon

Day 67 – How to have a Meaningful Life

Ecclesiastes 11:8-12:1 So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity. Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”

So, in the end, Solomon is saying for us to pursue life, pursue God, pursue it to the fullness, but the truth is most of the time there will be difficulties. Are you young? Then delight in the health and strength of your body. There’s a whole world to be explored, and you have the strength to do it. So you’re telling me that we can actually enjoy and have meaning in this life? Spoiler alert. Yes!

Verse 10 then throws a word of warning that can destroy an enjoyed and meaningful life. The word vexation translates as offense, worry, and/or anxiety. Yet, listen to whom he’s talking to, because it sounds like he is talking to young people. So, while you are young, get rid of your junk now – or else it will haunt you the rest of your days. Your issues now will not leave you if you pretend it’s not there. It becomes the unwanted relative that is always showing up for the holidays. And the longer you wait or the older you get, the worse the offenses, or worries or anxiety gets. Think about a time when you first started dated and maybe the person abused you or cheated on you. If you don’t deal with that internally, then you’ll begin to think that all of your relationships will end up like that. Remove the vexations from your heart now.

So, how do we enjoy and have a meaningful life? Chapter 12:1 gives us the answer – Don’t forget Jesus and keep him at the center of your life. (My paraphrase) At this point most people believe that Solomon is in his older years of life, so he is urging young people to never forget God. Don’t wait until you get out of high school to get your life together. Don’t wait until you get out of college to give your life to Jesus or don’t wait until you’re married or have kids. Now! While you are in your youth keep Jesus at the center of your life. Not until life slows down, because by then you’ll be too old and your mind may not be good anymore. Consider Jesus now because you are not promised tomorrow. Keeping Christ at the center of your life and activities is how we as followers of Jesus can enjoy and have a meaningful life.

“If Christ is not first with you, Christ is nothing to you.” – Charles Spurgeon

 

Day 66 – Don’t Miss The Ending

As we approach the end of our study of Ecclesiastes, I hope you haven’t mentally checked out before the end. Most of the time we lose interest when we are reading a story not realizing that we’ll miss the most important part – the end. Think about if you read the Bible and never read Revelation, then you’d miss the parts about dragons being thrown in lakes of fire, Jesus coming down with a tattoo, a new heaven and new earth, etc. Seriously, think about if you watched an M. Night Shyamalan film without watching the end or watching the Fight Club without watching the end. You would miss the most important part! And if you skip the end of Ecclesiastes, then you will miss the whole point of the book.

Up until now, we’ve had to deal with grumpy old Solomon, but now he is happy Solomon and is going to end on a good note. Solomon has been telling us how our life is meaningless, how wisdom and folly are meaningless, how wealth is meaningless, and how death is sure to come for you. Who wants this guy at their dinner table? Not me. But now, in a sudden plot twist, Solomon finds that with God at the center of our life everything becomes meaningful. Life does not have to be monotonous, but filled with challenging situations from God. Wealth could actually be enjoyed, if is stewarded for God. If you follow God’s wisdom, then you will be less inclined to do dumb things. And the certainty of death should make us enjoy life now and make the most of it for God.

For 10 chapters this book has been built with tension surrounding the meaninglessness of life, but thank God he didn’t leave us to deal with the despairs of life alone. We have a loving God who wants to bring us out of meaninglessness of life and into a life filled with meaning and purpose.

Day 65 – Anger (Killers of Wisdom Pt. 4)

Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.

The final killer of wisdom we are going to talk about is Anger. Anger will destroy you and plant seeds of calamity in your life. Before we discuss the anger that leads to folly, there is a good kind of anger that should enrage all Christians – things like poverty, sickness, injustices, orphans, and refugees. This is a righteous anger that should lead us to action. And contrary to what most “evangelical Christians” believe, it is very wise to be angry about the things that grieve the heart of God.

It is not a “pansy liberal social justice gospel”. It is the anger that Jesus had when those on the fringes of society were wrongly treated. So, we should be angry that 400,000 orphans are in the USA, or 2.5 million Syrian refugee children have been displaced from their homes, and we should be enraged about the millions of aborted babies.

The anger I’m talking about causes us to do stupid stuff that only leads us to a road of destruction. Have you ever been angry at someone? I’ve been so angry before that I thought fire was going to come out of my mouth. I have found that when we let unrighteous anger fester in our hearts towards another person, we become experts in said persons weakness and become blind to their strengths. We begin to say things like, “You always do this” and “You never do that.”

What we have done is taken our strengths, laid them against their weaknesses, and have made a case for our anger. That’s why we say and do things in our anger that we later regret. I can’t say this enough about wisdom and folly, but I have never heard anyone say something out of anger that later thought was the wise thing to do. 

I’ll leave you with these three simple truths about anger: 1) Revenge is not for you to handle 2) you have been forgiven by God – so you should forgive those who have made you angry and 3) you are ambassadors of reconciliation. It is not God’s design for you to walk in anger, but to walk in forgiveness and peace. 

Anger does a man more hurt than that which made him angry.” – Charles H. Spurgeon.