By Clay Hallmark
Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Lexington
A disciple of a great Rabbi asked, “Rabbi, I mean no disrespect, but why is it that each time I pose a question, you respond with a question.” The Rabbi asked, “Is it wrong for Rabbi to answer his disciple with a question?”
Life is filled with questions. In 1991 James Peterson and Peter Kim wrote a book entitled The Day America Told The Truth. In the book 2,000 people were asked, “What would you be willing to do for 10 million dollars?” The results were shocking:
- 25 percent said they would abandon their family for the money
- 23 percent said they would prostitute themselves for a week
- 7 percent said they would be willing to kill a complete stranger
Those statistics are astounding. What would they be today some 28 years later? This shows that many people in this world are filled with discontentment. They believe that by obtaining more possessions and experiencing more of life’s pleasures, they will discover life’s purpose, or at least, find some type of joy and satisfaction.
In Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon thought much like people today. He was seeking life’s purpose. Rather than seeking life’s purpose in the Lord, he sought it in the world only to be disappointed and left empty. Notice what Solomon did:
First, Solomon sought purpose in unrestrained enjoyment (2:1-3). We read here that he became a wine connoisseur thinking that altering his mind would give him joy and purpose. We read of him in 1 Kings 4:22-23, “Solomon’s provisions for one day were 150 bushels of fine flour and 300 bushels of meal, 10 fattened oxen, 20 range oxen, and 100 sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and pen-fed poultry.” We see that the enjoyment of food brought him no lasting pleasure. We read in 1 Kings 11:3, “He had 700 wives who were princesses and 300 concubines, and they turned his heart away from the Lord.”
Life’s fleshly pleasures did nothing to give lasting purpose, joy or contentment. We see that unrestrained enjoyment did nothing but turn his heart away from the Lord.
Life’s pleasures always leave us empty. We find in these pleasures nothing of value. The temporary nature of worldly pleasure has negative effects on us physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually.
Second, Solomon sought purpose in his diligent employment (2:4-11). We see that his building campaigns, agricultural endeavors and financial wealth were unmatched. Solomon was diligent to expand the kingdom into a superpower.
Despite all of his accomplishments and achievements, his life lacked purpose. Purpose is not found in things or pleasure. Purpose is found in the Lord.
A couple of applications for us: First, in Jesus, we find life’s purpose. He said in Matthew 10:39, “Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of me will find it.” God wants us to enjoy the pleasures of life, but in moderation and in appropriate ways. Jesus also says in John 10:10, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” This is the life of enjoyment, fulfillment and abundance we can experience.
Second, in Jesus we find the Lord’s providence. When we have a relationship with Jesus, we soon learn how God is working through the Holy Spirit in every area of our lives financially, relationally, physically and spiritually. Our needs are provided by God.
In Him we find contentment in this life that does not change or depend on external circumstances. Instead of trying to fill the void and emptiness of life with pleasures or possessions, we are free to enjoy the blessings of life offered to us by the Lord’s providence.