Daily Update #252
“Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved”
Winnie the Pooh
12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
than what has already been done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realise
that the same fate overtakes them both.
15 Then I said to myself,
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
“This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
The Teacher, the writer of Ecclesiastes, is quite a character, isn’t he? There’s realism, perception and arguably some pessimism all on clear display, as we hear him work through his experimental approach to life. He has already shared his overall conclusion in the executive summary at the beginning of the book:
‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher.
‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’
Yesterday, Matt walked us through his view of pleasures. Today he’s looking at wisdom and folly. The good news is the Teacher’s conclusion is that wisdom is better than folly, in the same way that light is better than darkness. The wise have an idea as to where they are going, what they are doing, whereas the foolish are stumbling around in the darkness. So wisdom is to be desired as it provides some understanding and allows us to make decisions.
But the ultimate fate of both those who are wise and those who are foolish is the same! So what gain is there, ultimately, for the wise person? Both are destined to be forgotten, death is the great leveller. So the Teacher’s conclusion in his executive summary continues to hold.
So where is all this leading us? What is the Teacher hoping to share with us and how can we apply his teaching to our situations today?
At the risk of stealing Sarah’s punchline from tomorrow, let’s peek forward to the end of this chapter to verses 24 to 26. Here at last we find some meaning and purpose. Here are some positive instructions which we can grasp and implement.
The Teacher is highlighting that our ultimate destinations, whether wise or foolish, rich or poor, hardworking or lazy, are the same. We end up having to give an account to our maker once we have died. So how are we to live? Let’s experience the journey and do so in a way which honours God. Let’s eat, drink and be satisfied with our work (whatever that may be). God gives us food, drink and work, along with satisfaction, if we will acknowledge and fear him (respect, give due reverence to him).
It may be that God has blessed you with ample resources, meaningful work and a degree of wisdom. On the other hand you may feel that your situation is modest, your resources limited and your capability less than you might wish. But here’s the thing – it’s not where you end up, or how fast you get there, that matter. What matters is that you travel through life enjoying the resources you have been blessed with by God and finding satisfaction in the work he has given you to do. This is how we can approach the Teacher and learn from him, making the best of our situations and resources, and giving the honour and glory to God. Here is true satisfaction, to experience life well ourselves and seek to serve in ways which honour and glorify God. That is where the meaning is!
So all that remains for us is to ask ourselves, day by day, am I using the resources God has made available properly, am I finding satisfaction in the work he has given me to do, and is all of this done in the spirit of honouring and fearing God? Let’s each of us find something in our day which we can use for God’s glory and gain satisfaction from working at, as we honour him!
Thank you for your provision for our needs and your gift of wisdom.
Give us a right perspective on life so that we can use these good gifts, with grateful hearts, for the honour and glory of your name, hour by hour, day by day.
Tomorrow’s passage: Ecclesiastes 2:18-26