Enjoy your life
Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 (Missionary Unkyung Haa)
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
Hello again. Nice to see you. There are many new faces. This church is growing. That’s good to see.
Some of you may wonder about this passage I chose. It sounds pessimistic.
Firstly, this chapter introduces King Solomon’s first stage. The Bible says he loved the Lord – the Lord gave him a wise and discerning heart, more wisdom and riches and honor than all other kings in history.
In chapter 3, he was fine (1 Kings 3). But in chapter 11 the trouble began. He had 700 wives and concubines. 11:4 “As Solomon turned old, his wives turned his heart.” When he married wives from foreign countries, they brought idols from their lands. At this point, his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord.
But in Ecclesiastes, his heart is turned from the Lord, but he is not a pessimist. “Meaningless” here means “nothing exists forever.” Everything exists only for a short time.
3:1 “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.”
Remember Napoleon? “There’s no such word as impossible in my dictionary.” Yet, he was defeated at Waterloo and his reign was ended. Even Napoleon’s glory ended.
Secondly: “meaningless” = “nothing gives perfect satisfaction”. chp 5 “Whoever loves money, never has money enough.”
Meaningless = man cannot control everything.
“The sleep of a laborer is sweep whether he has a little or much; but a rich man’s worries permit no sleep.”
King Solomon looking back on his life – his former glory – it’s gone. If he had more time, he many have had 1,001 wives for himself and would go on. But now, he is weak and old. And remembering: man cannot control everything.
I want to share my story a little.
Before becoming a Christian, I was very selfish. I paid attention to nature – I wanted to see and do and hear whatever I wanted. I loved flowers, trees, nature, etc. I did not care about or pay attention to human beings. Sometimes I traveled alone in the countryside and often I said, “I am a dreamer without a dream.” Can you imagine how empty that is?
In the morning, I get up, go to work, come back home. Repeating this everyday, suddenly I realize: what’s the meaning of life? If this is all that life is, what’s the meaning? So, I asked God to take my life. (I knew there was a god somewhere.) “Despair is the sickness unto death.” – Kierkegaard
I was in despair because I found no meaning in my life. But, when I met Jesus, the meaninglessness became meaningful. I had peace in my heart and it was worth it to live.
Now, Solomon is realizing that it is meaningless, but is telling us how to live.
chp 5 “I realized it is good for a man to eat and drink and enjoy his labor under the sun, however few his days are, for this is his reward…Moreover, when God gives wealth and possession, a man should enjoy his lot – because God keeps him occupied with a gladness of heart.” Reflect on the days – don’t brood over the past or worry about the future. Why? There’s a God for him and God keeps him occupied with gladness of the heart.
This toil and labor we do under the sun are also gifts from God. Now, in Genesis 3, the earth is cursed by sin. BUT work is included in God’s creation plan. Genesis 2:15 says, “God took the man in the garden to work it and take care of it.” (Before the Fall – work is included in God’s creation plan). Labor, therefore, is the act of obedience to God.
1 Thess “Mind your own business and work with your hands so you are not dependent on anybody.”
Solomon’s important point:
We must recognize God’s absolute authority over man – we must remember our Creator and his authority over us
In Detroit, an industrial (car manufacturing) city in the US. One day, a mechanic was on the way to work and his car broke down. He couldn’t see what the problem was.
A beautiful car drove up, he touched some things and it was fixed. The man asked his name, but he didn’t say. The man just handed out name cards “Henry Ford” – the man who made that car.
Everywhere, in everything, there is a creator. We must remember him and recognize his absolute authority.
Today in a church service I was watching: “There is ONE thing that belongs to us: sin.” Actually, I never really thought about that. I know that EVERYTHING belongs to God, but I never thought that something belonged exclusively to me. But that’s the thing: sin.
Work hard with the portion that God gave us.
God gave us all different portions. Maybe mine is 1 and your’s is 10. I shouldn’t complain, but should simply maximize what God’s given ME.
I had to preach at another church one morning. I prayed “God bless this message.” But I had no excitement, no tension, nothing. “If my heart is like this God, how can I deliver your message?” God said, “Preach as if this is your last day.” It was like thunder to me.
Preaching – I don’t know how you feel about it. Pastor Heo may try to always find the right passage for you to study and meditate on. This is hard work – I also do this. And before I do this message, I rehearse 5-10 times at home. Then I pray “If there is something missing, please add it” and God helps me. This is hard work.
But if I do this for my own glory, that’s never meaningful – but if I do it for the glory of the Lord, that’s honest work and never meaningless. When we do honest labor for the Lord, we receive God’s blessing.
I also was very blessed from the music team this week. I’m sure you also meditate on it, practice, and play it – God bless you. That’s hard work.
3. Solomon’s conclusion: (mine / yours as well)
chp 12:13-14 “Now all has been heard: here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God; and keep his commandments.” (that’s all)
Now Solomon is old, looking back, thinking about his old (meaningless) glory days. All was meaningless – EXCEPT this “for God will bring every deed into judgment including every hidden thing – whether it is good or evil.”
One day we will all stand before God’s judgment seat and he will judge.
- Without God, life is meaningless
- With God, life is meaningful.
Let’s fear God and keep his commandments.