S: Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.
O: My first impression of Ecclesiastes the first time I studied it years ago was very negative. The problem with this book is that this is a record of Solomon's thoughts when he was a jaded backslidden believer. He had started out with so much promise as a young man dedicated to God, but then, as time went on, he strayed away from God, partly due to marrying unbelieving wives who led him into spiritual adultery with other gods.
But reading it again this week under the guidance of Pastor Kris Langham's Through the Word Bible Audio Guide, I was struck by this passage. Langham points out the contrast between Solomon's hedonistic "I denied myself nothing" with Jesus' call to "deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24 / Luke 9:23)
Solomon, having drifted from God, searched for meaning in life. He tried pleasure, studying, work, wealth, and many other things. Nothing satisfies.
A: When life gets tough, sometimes I entertain the fantasy of throwing away everything and living for pleasure. Solomon's life is an example of how that doesn't satisfy. See also the lives of so many celebrities we know of. They have wealth, fame, anything they desire, but end up in rehab centres or even taking their own lives, because ultimately, it's meaningless.
We cannot find ultimate fulfillment in life by indulgence. Ultimate meaning only comes from eternal purpose. Godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6). To a lesser extent, it's like the pleasure of a family versus the hedonistic single life - as illustrated in this For Better or For Worse cartoon.
P: Father, when I'm feeling down, remind me of this truth, "If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it." (Matthew 16:25) In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)