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We assume King Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes. He is looking back over his life, and all his accomplishments, and finding them “meaningless.” Now that is something we all want to avoid.
I highly recommend you read Ecclesiastes, and remember as you read that this is an older man assessing the value of all the activities that kept him busy all his life, only to realize those activities now hold no value to him—zero value. All eternally insignificant. He states unequivocally,
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
Meaningless, a chasing after the wind, under the sun: these are repeated throughout. On my first reading of Ecclesiastes many years ago, I was put off by all the negativity. On my second reading I started to see the warnings. On the many subsequent readings I now see it as a “warning-encouragement.”
A warning not to miss what is most important; an encouragement to pursue what is.
As I read Solomon’s lament, I can hear Jesus’ warning-encouragement:
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matt. 16:26)
So how do we avoid this chasing after meaningless things … under the sun? “Under the sun” in Solomon’s Jewish world means, “The world in which we live.” Above the sun is heaven, the Kingdom of God, where God lives. Jesus’ primary mission is to bring these two worlds together:
… your kingdom come your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt. 6:10)
Jesus proclaimed repeatedly,
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near … has arrived. (Matt. 4:17)
I can just hear Jesus saying, “Open your eyes, turn from your meaningless ways under the sun. I am here to weave Heaven into your world so there is no longer any separation, and your life becomes a life of eternal significance.”
So how can we join Jesus in his quest, so his quest becomes ours? Clearly there are many things we must do each week that hardly seem to rate eternal significance. What to do?
We stop, or at least cut back on the meaningless activities, and we bring meaning to the otherwise meaningless. Stop and ponder that for a moment.
I do not have to know you to know there are activities in your life that could be eliminated. For some they are “untoward” activities, and for some they may be good, but are far, far from the best.
Stop those, now. You can, you know. You have my permission.
The other stuff? Your job, your daily and weekly responsibilities, even your fun hobbies and social activities—we are not advocating you become a no-fun monk: find a way to bring meaning to them. Eternal significance.
Perhaps a kind word. Compassion. Interrupting your all-important to-do schedule. Writing a note. A phone call. Pray with someone, not just for them. Mention your faith, your friendship with Jesus, in otherwise “news, weather and sports” conversations. (At least mention Jesus from time to time!)
You do not need me to train you in this. Follow your heart—as it is guided by the Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you energy, clarity and creativity as you ponder this quest to bring meaning to the meaningless. He will.
You can do this. Start today. Then, when the time comes, which may be much sooner than you think, you will hear these most wonderful words,
Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! (Matt. 25:23)