Ecclesiastes and Vanity of Life, Part 11
Our last article in this series brought us up to Ecclesiastes 2:23. I want to finish up chapter 2 with the few remaining verses – 24 through 26 – in this article.
24 There is nothing better for people than to eat and drink,
and to find enjoyment in their work.
I also perceived that this ability to find enjoyment comes from God.
25 For no one can eat and drink
or experience joy apart from him.
26 For to the one who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy,
but to the sinner, he gives the task of amassing wealth—
only to give it to the one who pleases God.
This task of the wicked is futile—like chasing the wind!
In the above text, Solomon points out several things that are all too often missed by people in every generation. First, he says that when all is said and done, people should be able to find pleasure (enjoy) eating, and drinking, and in the work that they do. He’s not saying that this is the end of it, but he urges us to recognize that these things come from God Himself and we would do well to organize our thinking around that truth.
The last portion of verse 24 attests to the fact that those who are able to find enjoyment in the fact that God has provided food and drink, as well as gainful employment, are blessed indeed. This is not like the type of person who says “Eat, drink, and be merry…” because that person finds sufficiency in their work, their plans, and their possessions. Those folks are not acknowledging God at all (Luke 12:18-20). They think they are the captain of their own fate when in reality God is in control.
This is often the problem with people today and this includes Christians. They pursue things as though they are the ones who control possibilities and outcomes. Solomon is saying that we need to simplify our thinking by understanding that the basic necessities of life are ours because God has provided them. Instead, people truly believe they are more than they are because of what they have been able to amass. We’ve all heard the expression “a self-made man” and it implies just that.
Take any known celebrity today. If you’ve heard of them, they’re probably well-known and wealthy. Because they are wealthy, they generally tend to think that they have made themselves what they are now. They have somehow provided the possibilities or because of their great talent, people noticed them and that talent of theirs, coupled with the right open doors placed them in the position where they have achieved much fame and wealth. It’s easy to appear “humble” when things are going well, isn’t it?
Could it be that God sends the rain on the just and the unjust and in that sense, is no respecter of persons?
44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, (Matthew 5:44-45).
Jesus is telling us here to be like God the Father who provides blessings of life to all people, whether they are just or unjust, evil or righteous. In spite of how people ignore or even denigrate God, He continues to bless across the board. We should have the same outlook toward people we might be tempted to think of as enemies.
The point is that God blesses people, even those who completely ignore Him, with gifts and abilities that are designed to make their lives more pleasant. Instead of recognizing that, people too often prefer to think that they have created their own talent. It’s simply another form of what Solomon calls vanity, or self-aggrandizement. The truth of the matter is that we need to learn to fully appreciate what God has given us, whether it’s food, drink, or employment. Certainly, any gifts I might have are there because God has given them to me. I can’t take credit for those, yet the temptation to do so is never that far removed.
Solomon tells us that the people who are able to find enjoyment with the simple, yet very important things in life, are able to do so also because of they way they view life and God. Solomon digs in even deeper in verse 25 above when he boldly states that no one can truly enjoy life apart from God. That might seem like an obvious point, but too many of us – Christians included – fail to grasp it. It almost seems as though God is waiting for us to come to Him in order to enjoy the simple things in life. Yet, all too often, I wonder if that seems foreign to us because we tend to think that God is always pushing for us to “be involved,” or “be working,” or something else? Yet, Jesus took time to enjoy life. Throughout His public ministry and even prior to it, He attended weddings or dinners. He seemed to enjoy the company of others. He lived life simply.
Verse 26 is something that I had never really thought about before. I hope you’ll take the time to consider it and even really think about it. Let me repeat that verse here.
For to the one who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy, but to the sinner, he gives the task of amassing wealth—only to give it to the one who pleases God.
Wow, go back and read that again. To those people who please God – and that appears to be done by appreciating and being thankful for the simple things and basic necessities of life – He grants wisdom, knowledge, and joy. Imagine that. People who often have little in this life but are Christians are often the most blessed and joyful. Why is that? It would seem that this occurs because those folks have learned what Paul also learned.
In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. 13 I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me, (Philippians 4:12-13).
Once we begin to see and understand that there is more to life than our “plans,” we learn to relax and be thankful for what God provides. God rewards with joy and contentment.
But notice also that for the “sinner,” (the unregenerate person), these folks spend their days climbing the corporate ladder, chasing one dream or goal after another, in the hopes of gaining as much money as possible. They believe that in their amassed wealth, they will find peace. Rarely is that the case though. How many rich and/or famous people have been miserable? They could never get enough and in the end, they realized they’d spent their entire life chasing after things that ultimately would be given to someone else who never earned it or put in the effort to gain it. Talk about irony and unfulfilled dreams.
As stated in another article, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, is currently worth about $80 billion dollars. He now considers himself a philanthropist so he spends time overseeing foundations and charitable organizations where he can give his money away to what he considers worthy causes. Of course, he is essentially building his legacy and will always have more than enough money on hand to provide for all the things that he can think of for himself and his family. But in the end, it is still ironic that Bill Gates has worked so hard to amass such wealth only to leave it to others when he passes from this life to the next, since he won’t be able to take it with him on his short trip to the afterlife. In the meantime though, Gates enjoys a 66,000 square foot home in Washington, as just one of his residences.
Verse 26 ends with a similar sentiment that runs through the entire book of Ecclesiastes. That is, “This task of the wicked is futile—like chasing the wind!” It is truly a worthless pursuit. So for the time being, someone like Bill Gates has tremendous wealth. Who knows how much he cheated and even stole (ideas) to get there? In the end though, does it really provide him the security and enjoyment he undoubtedly seeks? Doubtful. Is it any wonder that the apostle Paul made the following statements regarding wealth?
For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains, (1 Timothy 6:10).
Entry filed under: christianity, eternity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: all is vanity, ecclesiastes, life under the sun, love of money, utter futility.