Friday, August 02, 2013

Living for what lasts

Figure dancing in the wind
"...grasping for the wind"
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Ecclesiastes 2:1-12a

"Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun."  Ecclesiastes 2:11

Solomon here paints the picture of a man (supposedly himself) who has tried everything. With intelligence and the resources of a kingdom at his disposal he has dedicated himself to entertainment (Ecclesiastes 2:1-2), enhancing his experience with alcohol (Ecclesiastes 2:3), productivity and creativity in designing and growing gardens (Ecclesiastes 2:4-6), consolidating power with many servants and accumulating wealth (Ecclesiastes 2:7-8), and music (Ecclesiastes 2:8). Still, by his own admission, his life feels empty:
"…indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun."

We may well ask for ourselves, if Solomon tried all these things and found them empty, is there profit anywhere for us? God's word assures us there is.

In several places Bible writers echo Solomon's words about how unprofitable amassing worldly possessions turns out to be. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth … but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" says Matthew, recording the words of Jesus (Matthew 6:19-20).

In Luke Jesus says that if, in the attempt to preserve one's own life, a person denies God by being ashamed of Jesus, even gaining the whole world will prove futile. It is only in losing our life for His sake that we find we are living for what is lasting (Luke 6:23-26). Further to this, John tells us that the person who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:17).

Jesus speaks of spiritual food "which endures to everlasting life" versus the other kind that perishes - John 6:27.

Paul speaks of the three graces (faith, hope and love) that endure (1 Corinthians 13:13).

He also speaks of work built on the foundation of Jesus that endures God's testing fire (1 Corinthians 3:9-15). (In Hebrews, those temporary things that won't last are called "things that can be shaken" - Hebrews 12:27).

The lasting things that Paul refers to are not the temporary seen things of this world but the things are unseen and eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

And Peter spells out quite clearly what these unseen, lasting things consist of: "'But the word of the Lord endures forever.' Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you"  (1 Peter 1:25).

So what lasts?  What is worth our effort? Work that spreads and explains and magnifies the gospel.

Are we busy doing that work, putting our efforts into God's unseen but lasting business? Or will we, like Solomon, come to the end of life and find we've put all our energy and effort into what leaves us feeling empty and cheated?

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to see how the values of the world system I live in are a lie. Help me to know how to put the Bible's insights about what lasts and what doesn't into practice in my everyday life. Amen.


The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.
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  1. "Work that spreads and explains and magnified the gospel." This describes exactly what "Other Food" does, Violet. :)

  2. Why thank you, Mary! So do the posts on your blog, and the devotions you write (and probably the fiction too... I haven't had the privilege of reading it yet).


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