Unpleasing Pursuits

OPENING PRAYER

God of goodness, wisdom and life, You are what gives purpose and meaning to my days on earth.

 

Read: ECCLESIASTES 2:1-16

[1] I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. [2] “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” [3] I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly-my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives. [4] I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. [5] I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. [6] I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. [7] I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. [8] I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well-the delights of a man’s heart. [9] I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. [10] I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. [11] Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. [12] Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly. What more can the king’s successor do than what has already been done? [13] I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness. [14] The wise have eyes in their heads, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both. [15] Then I said to myself, “The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?” I said to myself, “This too is meaningless.” [16] For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; the days have already come when both have been forgotten. Like the fool, the wise too must die! 

 

Reflect: HOW DEEPLY SATISFYING ARE YOUR PURSUITS?

In the Teacher, we meet a man who could rightly claim, about almost any life situation, “Been there, seen it, done it!” His pursuits might be summed up in three words: enjoyment, employment, enlightenment. One can imagine the Teacher deciding, “I’ll be as happy as I can,” and, to that end, pursuing pleasure (1-3); resolving, “I’ll be as busy as I can,” and devoting himself to ambitious building projects (4-6); thinking, “I’ll be as clever as I can,” and becoming legendary for his wisdom (9b,12). Here was no mere “Jack of all trades,” but a master of them all! An impressive record–yet its end was depression: “So I hated life…” (17a).Jesus puts his finger on the problem in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:19-21). Lasting satisfaction comes only from heavenly treasures. At a rich man’s funeral someone asked, “How much did he leave?” The answer: “All of it!” If we look to pleasures, possessions, positions, power or personal greatness to invest our lives with significance, we are doomed to disappointment–for these will all one day rust, rot or become obsolete or a distant memory. Only our investments in God’s Kingdom will endure for eternity.

 

APPLY

As you consider how to invest your time, talents, resources and energies, make God your investment adviser.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Eternal God, You have made me for eternity. You have made me for You. I will never be satisfied with less!

 

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