By Clay Hallmark
Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Lexington Focal
Focal Passage: Ecclesiastes 2:12-17; 7:23-29
In the movie “Forrest Gump,” the main character sat on a bench and said, “Mama always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.’ ” When we read Ecclesiastes 2 and 7, it appears that Solomon had a similar outlook on life.
Solomon continues to pursue the purpose of life. Here Solomon pursues purpose in both the world’s wisdom and work. Notice two truths we learn:
First, we learn that only God’s wisdom works. Solomon is said to be the wisest man who ever lived.
Still, he found that the world’s wisdom was not enough to answer the big questions of life or to make sense out of the chaos that can come into our lives. Wisdom is defined as “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action (Dictionary.com).”
In 7:23, Solomon says that he had tested these things of the world with wisdom. However, when he applied wisdom to all that he saw taking place around him, nothing made sense to him.
Is it any different today? We live in a society that thrives on education. However, many times we feel like a college graduate filled with knowledge and information, holding a diploma, but with no job. He is highly qualified, but feels completely useless.
In 1982, futurist Buckminster Fuller estimated how long it took for all accumulated and transmitted knowledge to double from Year One CE (Common Era).
His estimate was about 1,500 years, followed by another doubling after only 250 years, to about 1,750. By 1900, only 150 years later, the amount of knowledge had doubled again. Clearly, the process of doubling the knowledge in the world was estimated to be between one and two years at the beginning of the 21st century. In 2019, the doubling of knowledge is reported to be every 12 hours.
We live in a world filled with knowledge, facts and education, but we are void of wisdom. No wonder we live in a world that seeks, but cannot find life’s purpose.
The world only brings frustration into our lives. We read these words in James 1:5, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.” Where do you need wisdom today? Do you need it with your work or with your family? Maybe you need it with your finances or how to make a decision? The solution to life’s questions is to ask God for wisdom and seek His wisdom in His Word.
Second, we learn that only God’s work is wise. Solomon was frustrated in 2:17, when he tells us he hated life because of his work. He pursued everything the world said would make him happy and experience peace. However, Solomon learned it was all a lie. His work was empty.
Lee Atwater, former Republican Party chairman said this before he died, “The 1980’s were about acquiring: wealth, power and prestige. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty.”
The focus of our work only makes sense in relationship to the Lord. Paul teaches us this in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” This principle changes how we work and the one for whom we work.
This perspective is how to see God’s purpose in your work. If you work according to God’s purpose, in the name of Jesus and with thanks, you will be wise! B&R