Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labor that is done on earth—people getting no sleep day or night— then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.
If you haven’t read through Ecclesiastes, see if you can find a bit of time to do it. It’s not horribly long and it can push the reset button of your perspective on life. Ecclesiastes is an especially great book to read through with someone leaving high school and going on to college, too. It’s not that long but it is so deep and so appropriate for this day and age.
Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes and he is what I call the “great experiment”. Solomon, unlike any other before or since, had it all. If you ever wondered what you are striving for in this life, what is most important, where you are investing your time, and if it will be worth it, read Solomon.
Where are our longings? Do we long for a house, a spouse, to have fun, to build things, to grow things, to have power, to have control? Well, take a look at Solomon because he indeed had it all. He is perhaps the only person in the history of the world that did or ever will. And not only did he have it all, he indulged in it all. All the things that are the typical carrots before us in this life, he had at his fingertips. And boy, he didn’t just sit by and observe. He indulged. He had unlimited power- he was the King. He had unlimited wealth- he built golden houses, parks, you name it. He had unlimited resources to throw big parties and have friends over all the time, drinking, laughing, having a grand time- and he did just that. He had women, as many as he wanted. Take one look at Solomon- the one stop shopping guy- to see what happens if and when you were to ever reach the goals that so many of us work decades to achieve. Decades! Lifetimes! We could easily live our lives chasing smoke and mirrors.
Solomon, on the other side of his indulgences, has a lot to say about what it’s like once we (and if we ever) attain our goals. And let’s face it folks, it ain’t pretty. Listen to Solomon speak as he tells us how empty every bit of it is. It’s all wrapped in a beautiful package but upon arrival at the destination, if we ever do arrive, once opened, the gift box is empty. We strive our entire lives for an illusion. We spend years and years and years wasted going down the wrong road, heading toward the wrong destination. How many lives have been a complete waste seeking things that are worth nothing? Being an economics major, this cost benefit analysis is simply awful.
The answer is clear. It’s the cross. The cross reveals the purpose of our lives- relationship. Jesus died, spilled his blood, so that we could have the indwelling Holy Spirit and live eternally in the presence of the Lord, so that we can have relationship with HIm. And in this relationship we find our pot o’ gold which is peace and joy and purpose. The cross is about relationship. Our relationship with the Lord is the primary purpose of our existence and out of that flows our relationship with the rest of the world. And it is only in our primary relationship that we find the fulfillment our hearts seek. If we attempt to find it in others, then we will end up in dire straits. No person is God and no one can handle a God-shaped burden.
If we have relationship problems, we must look to see if we value the things of life more than the relationships of life. If we have relationship issues, we must remember that Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners and yet we throw away relationships over the smallest of things. We are called to value our relationships as Christ valued a relationship with us. He hung on a cross. We must do whatever we can do to make things right. Being selfless, considering others first (don’t read that “be a doormat” and allow yourself to be abused- no), and trusting in the Lord’s grace and goodness to change them (whoever “they” are) and MOSTLY to change us.
Takeaway: If we are toiling to attain things- money, power, possessions- and that is our priority, then we are wasting our time on this planet. There’s nothing wrong with those things if they are secondary to relationships. But our relationship with the Lord is the primary purpose of our existence and our relationships with others give us clear indication of where we are in our primary relationship. If we are having problems in relationships with others, then we probably have a problem in our relationship with the Lord. We must remain teachable and we must be willing to self-examine in order to root out all that is in us that is not God. And the true goal in every human heart is to live in peace and joy and contentment, knowing we are making a difference. This only happens by fulfilling our primary role- God’s servant.
Prayer: Lord, please removed the log from my own eye and cause me to allow others who love me to speak truth to me, even if I am resisting it. Please make your priorities my priorities and don’t allow me to set as goals those things that mean nothing. Help me to be more like you.