Approaching Life With An Ecclesiastes Philosophy
(Ecclesiastes 7:20, 29, 8:11, 9:7-18)
1. All of us have principles we live by, a personal philosophy of life.
2. Here are some comical ones:
? If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.
? If you’re not part of the solution, be part of the problem!
? If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
? If you can’t beat your computer at chess, try kickboxing.
? If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
? The trouble with talking too fast is you may say something you haven't thought of yet. - Ann Landers
? The early worm gets eaten by the bird, so sleep late. [source: http://quotes.yourdictionary.com]
3. So much of the Bible tells us how to live, gives us the big picture of why we exist, and tells us how to be saved and how mature; how to function in the Body of Christ and how to resist temptation. But it is Ecclesiastes that gives us a balanced philosophy of everyday life, both secular and sacred, both idealistic and realistic.
4. This begins with some important but less-than-flattering theology about human nature: We are all sinners (7:20, 29), could use a dose of wisdom (7:28), we operate better with speedy discipline (8:11) and we have a touch of insanity within (9:3).
Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. (7:20)
One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. (7:28)
See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. (7:29)
Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. (8:11)
This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. (9:3)
Certainly the New Covenant perspective begins with coming to Jesus Christ, the new birth, and discipleship. But even under the New Covenant, we need to discipline ourselves for godliness (I Timothy 4:7).
MAIN IDEA: By taking heed to God’s Word here in Ecclesiastes, we can approach life with a godly, practical philosophy at hand.
This God-given philosophy of life involves many aspects, but today I’d like to summarize part of that philosophy through three directives.
I. Live Life JOYFULLY, Being A Good Steward of Its Opportunities (9: 7-10)
• We might call this, “living life to the fullest.”
Nehemiah 8:10 is worth noting:
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
• Note the connection between the joy of the Lord, which is our strength, and living a life of celebration.
• This is the other side of the coin of the “house of mourning.”
A. Enjoy the simple pleasures and CULTIVATE fun, joy, and humor (7).
Many of our modern pleasures are tied to technology; but it is important not to lose the older, more personable pleasures of life:
• enjoying meals together
• playing games
• watching the children play, arts, crafts, making music/singing, playing catch, going for a walk/bike ride, hobbies, reading aloud…
B. Be social and CELEBRATE (8).
I used to read Erma Bombeck’s prose about what she would do over (fighting cancer); I thought, my, she must have been a rigid person. Most of you already do what she wished she had. You live in your house, & it is a creative, fun place.
We all have some regrets in life. But what do most people near the end of their lives regret the most?
In our research at Cornell University, I asked hundreds of the oldest Americans that question. I had expected big-ticket items: an affair, a shady business deal, addictions — that kind of thing. I was therefore unprepared for the answer they often gave:
"I wish I hadn't spent so much of my life worrying.
"Over and over, as the 1,200 elders in our Cornell Legacy Project reflected on their lives, I heard versions of "I would have spent less time worrying" and "I regret that I worried so much about everything [businessinsider.com]
C. ENJOY your spouse (9).
The rabbis taught that a man’s wife was his reward in life. I feel that way.
She is a fellow heir of life, a sister in the Lord, my best friend, and enjoyable. I think of time with her as a treat, a reward. I didn’t always think this way.
D. Do what you do with ENTHUSIASM (10).
• Put your heart into responsibilities….walk the extra mile…
II. ACCEPT that Your Control Is Limited (11-13)
A. The unpredictability of life might scare us, but CONTROLLING people are not well balanced.
• Lust for control is what turned Lucifer into Satan. Arguments about money are often about control. Marital arguments, parents and children…
Isaiah 14:13-14, “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”
B. Life is not fair; you never know when a WRENCH is going to mess everything up.
When that wrench comes, fear kicks in. We either calm our fears and refuse to think in reactionary and unreasonable ways and gain our bearings, or we allow our emotions to carry us away into the land of the unreasonable.
C. We all deal with time and seeming CHANCE.
Here is another paradox. God is sovereign over all. Time and chance happen to all. Both true. Maybe simply a matter of perspective: under the sun or from an eternally future vantage point.
III. Choose to Be A Person of SUBSTANCE Rather Than Image Alone (13-18)
King Saul looked like a King; he was tall and handsome; but God said to Samuel,
"Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7)
But David, the red headed lad and youngest son of Jesse was the King who was the man after God’s own heart…
A. The king had the image but the poor man had the SENSE.
B. One lie is that poor and disadvantaged people have NOTHING to offer.
C. It is hard for all of us to look beyond the PHYSICAL.
D. Better to be UNKNOWN and wise then prominent and shallow.