Some people who have read Ecclesiastes find it to be quite depressing and unpleasant. After all, it can pretty much be summed up in three words, “Everything is meaningless!” I beg to differ from those who find this to be a depressing book. This book of the bible is written by Solomon, a man who was wise enough to ask God for wisdom, and he got it to the extreme! I find it excellent that Solomon has laid out all that is meaningless, but then also tells us what is good. Here are some highlights that I think could help a person steer their life in an acceptable direction.
So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him.
Ecclesiastes 3:12-14 NLT
These verses lay it out pretty plainly and we will see some repetition in verses to come. The wisest man who ever lived aside from Jesus was Solomon, although he was not perfect. I know many wise people who act like fools, but his conclusions are pretty solid. Now, keep in mind these verses do not say we should over eat and get drunk. After all, our bodies are the temple of God as long as we have the Holy Spirit within us, so we should take great care not to do things in excess that could bring us harm or give others a negative picture of God. It would be unlikely that you could give an account to others the great things that you have seen God do in your life if you are intoxicated, stumbling on your words, and are unable to concentrate. I have actually had someone at a party lift a drink in the air and say, “Eat, drink, and be merry!” unknowingly quoting scripture and then hurling shortly thereafter because they did the second WAY more than the first. Enjoying the fruits of our labor makes reference to working hard and enjoying what the hard work has brought us. Now this doesn’t always mean wealth, this could simply mean that we feel good about the work that was accomplished. After all, according to Solomon wealth is also meaningless as I will point out in verses to come. The end of these verses tell us to fear God and that what he does is final. To fear God is to have respect for what he can do to you. He is the creator of the heaven’s and the earth and he spoke them into being. As a child, have you ever defied your parents and then all they had to do was look at you a certain way and it brought some fear to you? I was blessed to have a mother who never hurt or abused me, so when I feared her it was a fear of respect knowing that she was the one in charge and I had no business telling her I was not going to follow her directions and leadership.
So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.
Ecclesiastes 3 verse 22
Notice that this has a focus on the work itself, not necessarily being able to continue to enjoy the results of our work. Once we die we will have no control over the fruits of our labor. Once you are with the Lord, all earthly things you left behind will be distributed or destroyed and years down the road it will be unlikely that anyone will even remember what you did. If we look back to people in our ancestry, most of them are just names, especially if you go back more than 100 years. So enjoy the process of your work and hopefully the impact you make in the process will have eternal value, something really worth cherishing.
10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11 The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!
12 People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
13 There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. 14 Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. 15 We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.
16 And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. 17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.
18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.
These last verses pretty much sum up how to have an enjoyable life. We should not seek to obtain more wealth simply to feel more secure. If we are centered on obtaining wealth then we will be empty, continually wanting more to only discover that it will never truly fill the void. Even if you obtain what you might consider to be enough, others will be there to help you spend it, as Solomon states. You will always be looking over your shoulder or trying to figure out who is truly there for you or just there for your wealth. There is not even the guarantee that your children will be able to enjoy your wealth because of legality and red tape. If you have major debt then your wealth may only take care of your debts after your passing. Let’s say that your children DO inherit your fortune when you’re gone. Unless they have been trained to continue to work hard and manage the money well, they will likely squander what they receive on useless things or make mistakes in money management regardless of your training.
My hope is that I will pay off all of my debts, because I should “owe no man” and then whatever blessing of wealth God chooses to afford me, use it to bless others. My desire is to strive to be healthy so that I can truly enjoy God’s blessing. I wish to always look to God to provide for my needs. I hope to make wise choices and chase after the things of God that bring me joy in my relationship with him and the people around me. I struggle every day with what I center my life on whether it be entertainment, indulgence, and sometimes earthly relationships. The true center of my life should be God and all other things will fall in line. If I do that, I am confident God will keep me so busy enjoying the life he has for me that I will never look back in regret. Bless you all and have a great week!