Summary: A sermon for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost about the vanity of life
"All is Vanity without God"
I would like to share one of Aesop’s Fables with you this morning.
"When a dog which had stolen a piece of meat out of a butcher’s shop, was crossing a river on its way home, he saw his own shadow reflected in the stream below.
Thinking that it was another dog with another piece of meat, he decided to make himself master of that also; but in snapping at the supposed treasure, he dropped the meat he was carrying, and so went away empty handed."
Another tale: "Two buckets met at a well one day. One bucket had a big smile on its face. The other had a big frown.
"Why are you frowning?" asked the happy bucket.
"Oh, no matter how full I am when I leave the well, I always return Emptt,"complained the sad bucket.
"And why are you always smiling?" asked the sad bucket.
"No matter how empty I am when I come to the well. I always leave full!!"
The rich farmer said to his soul, "Soul you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink be merry."
"Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities!! All is vanity"
"Jesus says, "Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions; "
As you can tell by now as you listened to the stories and the quotes from our lessons this morning, our topic for today concerns a subject that is difficult to preach about, even more difficult for you to listen to, that subject is money, or possessions, or wealth, or whatever you would like to call it. It is a subject that many people have accused the church of talking about every Sunday or it is a subject that is only talked about when the church needs money. It is a subject that can raise the tempers of a lot of people, it can cause guilt feelings in others or it can cause apathy in still others.
This morning I would like to talk about money, but in a way that I hope will not make you feel guilty, or become angry, but in a way that will help us all to see that we have a duty, a responsibility from God to make wise use of the money we do have.
I would like to begin by looking at our first lesson from Ecclesiastes. The preacher says, " Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities!! All is vanity." or futility of futility’s, futility of futility’s!! All is futile, or Emptiness of emptiness, emptiness of emptiness!! All is emptiness. As you can see the word vanity as it is used in the Bible has to do with things or life being empty, futile, or insubstantial, or as the Hebrew word is literally translated, "a breath".
What the preacher is saying in Ecclesiastes is that all of life is empty, all of life is futile, all of life is like a breath here one minute, gone the next. Our text goes on to say that a man can toil all the day in field, but then when he dies and another takes over and he might not appreciate your efforts and might not take as good of care of the land.
In one sense, the preacher is saying, that things of this life in and of themselves mean very little. The preacher is saying that the toil for things, the toil of work in and of itself is really worthless, empty of no value.
But he says in the last paragraph, when you see your toil as from God, when you see that your toil is in praise and service to God, then it is not in vain, then one can eat and drink and find enjoyment in one’s toil. The preacher says, in verse 25 "for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?"
The preacher is saying that if your toil and effort are for God, then it has meaning and purpose. For if toil is seen in connection with God, then we will have our priorities right. Our work, our toil will be shared with God and it will not be the whole consuming effort in our lives.
" A young man found a two-dollar bill on the sidewalk, once. From that time on he never lifted his eyes from the ground when walking. In the course of 40 years he accumulated 29,516 buttons, 54,172 pins, 7 pennies, a bent back and a miserly disposition. And at the same time, he lost the glories of the sun light, the smiles of friends, the songs of birds, the beauties of flowers, trees, blue skies and all there is in life worth living for--the opportunity to serve his fellow man and spread happiness and walk with God."