Today we will read Ecclesiastes 9: 1-12:
1 All this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hate one does not know. Everything that confronts them 2 is vanity, since the same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not sacrifice. As are the good, so are the sinners; those who swear are like those who shun an oath. 3 This is an evil in all that happens under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone. Moreover, the hearts of humans are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4 But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no more reward, and even the memory of them is lost. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished; never again will they have any share in all that happens under the sun.
7 Go, eat your bread with enjoyment and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has long ago approved what you do. 8 Let your garments always be white; do not let oil be lacking on your head. 9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful, but time and chance happen to them all. 12 For no one can anticipate one’s time. Like fish taken in a cruel net or like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.
When I read the words of the teacher, I sometimes think about something I remember reading about when I was in seminary, a concept called “affluenza.” This concept is a disease that comes from having too much. When you have too much, to an extreme level, nothing can make you happy, nothing is good enough, and nothing really has any real value. When you have too much, nothing really matters and nothing is enough.
I think about that with the words of the Teacher sometimes. For he has tried EVERYTHING that someone can try. All pleasures. All work. All everything. And in the trying of everything he has found that nothing matters, nothing satisfied, nothing really gives any value at all.
Vanity, vanity, it is all vanity, as we have heard repeatedly throughout this book.
The Teacher has had it all, and nothing has value.
Now, I do think there is great wisdom here because our world teaches us that if we have everything that we could ever want, if we never lack for anything need or want wise, then at that point we will have everything one could desire for a perfect life. The story of the Teacher shows us that is not true. He did just that, and not only did it not make life perfect, it showed him that value cannot be found in anything here upon the earth.
While that is true, we do see glimpses of what does matter throughout. Today, put your hand to work for what is in front of you. Live today and be faithful. We’ve seen the importance of good friendships. We see the importance of living in this moment that God has given us. Live faithfully and joyfully. Live in this day.
Our worth will not come from having much, especially too much. It will come from that day to day faithfulness and joys of life. Find life in the beauty of the moment not in the wishes of too much. We can find something truly beautiful there.
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