Friday, May 24 2024

Bible Reading for: July 24

Ecclesiastes 3-6

The secret of a joyful life is not found in the things of this world but rather in right relationship with God. You want to be happy? Get right and stay right with God.

I don’t know about you, but as I read Solomon’s words, I envision an extremely depressed man. He is spouting a morose, fatalistic view point. I want to give a warning here that you need to be careful in what you take away from what he says. Solomon has wandered away from God. He has married foreign women and they have pulled him away from right relationship with God with their foreign gods. In the meantime, he has been hailed across the known world for his wisdom in ruling his people. He has wealth beyond belief. He has a palace full of wives and concubines. He has wealth, power, and fame. He has everything the secular world has to offer, and you can hear in his words the emptiness of his life. Considering all with which God has blessed him, why is he so down?

He is down because life has no meaning without a right relationship with God. Notice that Solomon acknowledges God’s existence, sovereignty, and even the need to show Him proper respect, but none of this means that he is in right relationship with God. In one of my posts on Proverbs I wrote about the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the possession of information. Wisdom is the right use of that information. For example, if I know that to be healthy I need to exercise and eat right, then I have knowledge. If I actually exercise and eat right, I have wisdom. In what “Solomon the Wise” writes in Ecclesiastes, we discover that he is lacking in both knowledge and wisdom.

I found the following set of verses particularly instructive.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ESV
“Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.  For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.”

In verse 20 Solomon says “…because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart”. Now I have had joy in my heart, and I have got to tell you that there is no joy like that which comes from being in right relationship with God. It is an incredible thing! Joy just radiates from you. Everything just seems to be coming up roses and others notice the joy in you; they are drawn to it. This joy is indeed a gift from God, as is everything you are, have, and see. Solomon is correct that God can fill your heart with this kind of joy, but he is incorrect to suggest that it comes from taking pleasure in worldly things.

Appropriate pleasure in worldly things only comes when one is in right relationship with God. The overarching message Solomon communicates in Ecclesiastes is that the best the world has to offer is emptiness, and yet he says you should take pleasure in that emptiness. How can you take pleasure in something you know does not bring pleasure? You can’t. The pleasure in life comes from God. It is in right relationship with God that one can truly enjoy His creation and all that He has provided.

Solomon is experiencing the same disease that permeates our world today. People have no sense of purpose. Their existence seems empty and meaningless. They try to fill the hole in their lives with eating, drinking, the pursuit of wealth and sex, and any number of meaningless pursuits. You cannot fill a God sized hole with meaningless stuff. Enjoying your life, having a sense of contentment and purpose, are by-products of right relationship with God. The problem is the world tries to get the by-product rather than the “main-product”. Solomon’s solution to the emptiness of life is no solution at all.

You want to be happy? Praise God, trust and obey Him, read your Bible every day, pray every day, make the focus of your life right relationship with Him and as Christ told us, “all these things will be added to you“.

Matthew 6:33 ESV
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

The secret of a joyful life is no secret, it has been known since God first breathed life into Adam. The secret to a joyful life is a right relationship with God.

Vivere Victorem! (Live Victorious!)

Your brother and servant in Christ,
Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Isaiah 31-34
Old Testament Only: Job 7–8
New Testament Only: Acts 18:18–19:10

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