Monthly Archives: October 2018

Futility and Fulfillment

Ecclesiastes 1-3; what a remarkable book! Our writer of the Proverbs Solomon continues to teach us about life. Two words will continually come into play as we read this book. Futility – the nothingness of life – the what is the meaning of life and why bother with it are all questions we will face. The old adage, the “more things change the more things stay the same” rings so true. There have been several attempts through movies and studies to try to establish a “mother earth” cycle of life. The movies Lion King and Avatar are two that quickly come to mind. The cycle of life – Solomon sort of advocates this truth when he says ” that which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done, so there is nothing new under the sun.” I have to admit that life can become a bit mundane. Repetition after repetition seems to be the order. We are born, we live eeking out a living only to die a tired old person who has given up on life and mankind. SO sad that we can reduce this life which is so full of splendor and excitement to a “wore out old shoe.” What happened to us? Did we just finally succumb to the pressures of daily living and the fight against right and wrong? The culture we live in today seems to echo much of what “the Preacher” pens for us. Pessimism and negativity seem to be the mind-set for most.

Why did Solomon write such a depressing almost morbid book? What was he trying to convey? Here is the perspective we have to have as we read his words: Solomon the richest and wisest man had all resources at his disposal to determine if there was anything “offered on earth that would satisfy.” Ecclesiastes is a test. Who better than Solomon to test the offerings of the world to extravagant excess to find out if anything but God can satisfy. Solomon would partake of every resource the world had to offer, and that which the world tells us satisfies; and find out if the here and now life is the best we can have – if so “then let’s eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

Life has meaning, not just meaning we try to apply to it; life is not found in things but in a Person – in God. Yet mankind, inside and outside the family of God try to substitute God with something. We know that the first three commandments in Exodus 20 were prohibitive of have idols or anything else replace our worship of God.

In these first couple of chapter we find the test to be one of possessions. Solomon had more earthly possessions, yet it did not satisfy his soul. “Things” vineyards, servants, wives, gardens, livestock, horse, laughter, wine, parks, silver and gold – all fall short of peace for the soul.  Yet we haven’t learned anything – man still pursues such in hopes that having them will somehow please the senses and fill the void that only God can fill.

Maybe fulfillment would be found in labor – working hard and amassing a great amount of wealth, nope – that to will be given to someone who didn’t earn it and will waste it away, with no regard with how difficult it was to obtain.

The cycle of life, living or even seasons that go on repetitively year after year is brought forth in futility in chapter three – a time for everything and everything in its own time – yet only to be reproduced all over again. Chapter 3:11 – gives us a hint that eternity can only be filled in our souls by God – we all  know there is more to life than the mere amount of years we have on earth – we pursue after “eternal life” because it has been placed in our hearts. There is a future beyond the grave – so many religions uphold this truth, but with this truth they deceive themselves it what is means to have it and obtain it. Solomon will instruct us in the following chapters the futility to bank eternity on earthly things; and along the way maybe he will teach us about what is important about life.

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fools, foolishness and folly

Proverbs 25-29 lends itself to revealing or exposing the mindset of people outside the family of God; however family members are not exempt from such behavior. The warnings and instructions put forth by the Teacher gives common sense understanding to the ways of mankind without God. Proverbs 26 lists “fools” no less than 10 times. As I was reading it the thought came to mind where we’re are told “call no man a fool.”  Imbecile is probably a better rendering of the fool person.; or someone who is stupid or idiotic. Those are harsh words to label someone with. Yet in our history as man, we have exhibited such a mentality and behavior. These Proverbs are packed full of everyday living advice. The proverbs are so packed with meaning and connotations for someone who is willing to dig into them beyond the mere words of the proverb. Reading the proverbs continually filled my mind with a simpler time or a time when reason and logic made sense and was applied to life situations. I wish I could say that today. I don’t know where common sense went, but it sure is in short demand.

Like it or not mankind is not created equal, as far as ability to rationally think and act. There are people who have limits of comprehension and intellect. This does not make them unhuman, but it does mean they will not necessarily have the where with all to grasp the intricate details of life. I know that sounds crass, but what I am trying to say is that people live life on different planes. Some live a surface or top-level life, others are more deep in thought, while others are fixated with life, meaning and trying to answer questions that nobody is asking. The topic of being a fool or acting foolish is exposed by the writer; the contrast between what a righteous person and how a worldly person think and behave is glaring. The advice to live life for more than mere daily existence is prevalent. I guess all of us have a tendency at times to think of the here and now and “what’s in it for me” attitude at times.

The Proverbs are wise saying from a sage person who has succeeded and failed in life. It is someone one who has learned life, not just lived life. The fool is a person that really only deceives himself, others can readily perceive the error of the thought and actions of the foolish person. There are many warnings to people not to deal or get caught up in the outlandish ways of the fool.

When reading these Proverbs the tool most readily identified with foolish behavior is the lips, mouth, and tongue. I think of what James tells us when he says a tongue is such a small instrument, yet can cause an uncontrollable fire. The writer is clearly admonishing us to watch what we say, but also when and how we say it. The words of a fool can shatter a person; the fool will not listen to anyone except themselves. Wisdom and foolishness are opposite outcomes of talking. Maybe that is why we are told to be slow to speak and swift to hear. But how are we to deal with people of such caliber? We cannot just dismiss them; we live among them! We dare not give ourselves over to their folly, for then we risk our own well-being. I think discernment the answer. Observe and know what kind of person you are dealing with – if they are foolish in their nature, reactionary instead of responding – separate ourselves from them. Titus 3:10 is solid advice for us. Do not let ourselves get pulled into another’s folly and unbelief in our sovereign God.

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