Summary: We place ourselves at the center, when it should be God.
God is the Center
July 26, 2015
Back in the 1960s the mayor of the city of Chicago was Richard J. Daley. He was famous for being the last of the big time bosses of the city. Daley was sharp, powerful, and had an enormous ego.
One fall a speechwriter who worked for Daley – demanded a raise. Daley was amazed that anyone would have the gall to ask. He told the guy, "I'm not giving you a raise. You’re getting paid more than enough already. It should be enough for you that you get to work for a great American hero." The speechwriter eventually gave notice that he was leaving. Daley was scheduled to give a speech on Veteran's Day and he demanded that the speechwriter write his speech.
Daley was notorious for never reading his speeches thru ahead of time; he enjoyed winging it. There's nationwide press coverage and hundreds of people are there.
The speech was passionate and engaging. Then Daley said, “I’m concerned for you, I have a heart for you. I am deeply convinced this country needs to take care of its veterans. I haven't forgotten about you. I’m proposing a 17-point program at the city, state and federal level, for us to care for our veterans.”
Everyone was excited to hear what Daley was going to say. Daley himself was excited. When he turned the page – he saw the words . . . “You're on your own now, you great American hero.”
We live in a society that exalts the ego; in our culture being number one is all too often what life is focused on. We see that in sports, we see it in the entertainment world, we see it in business, we see it in every aspect of life
In Greek, the word "I" is a little word spelled E-G-O. Does anyone want to guess what word we get from that Greek word? How appropriate is that!
Now, the ego is like anything else in our lives; it can be something good, healthy, and godly; or it can become tainted and sinful. Because of sin, our egos can get to the point where we think we’re the center of the universe and we begin to act like we’re in charge of everything and everyone.
Management consultant Ken Blanchard says that, sometimes, ego is an acronym for the phrase “Edging God Out.” Have you ever done that? Have you ever let your desires, your will, your ego get to the point where you think, It has to be done my way. Have you ever “Edged God Out” of your life? I would say on occasion, we all have. When we do that, the results aren't very promising, long term.
John Calvin said, “For as the surest source of destruction to people is to obey themselves, so the only haven of safety is to have no other will, no other wisdom, than to follow the Lord wherever he leads. Let this, then, be the first step, to abandon ourselves and devote the whole energy of our minds to the service of God."
Solomon discovered that truth. Throughout much of his life he gave into his ego and put himself at the center of life only to discover that much of what he did and accomplished was fleeting—it was like chasing after the wind.
In the middle of chapter 3, Solomon picks up on that theme. Let’s look at verses 9-15 of chapter 3.
9 What gain has the worker from his toil?
10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;
13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.
14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.
15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.
What does the worker gain from his toil? Solomon realizes – we’re not the center of reality. His question is really a rhetorical question. And the implied answer is
we don’t gain much. Our reaction might be: Wait a minute; that’s not necessarily true. I built a business, we raised a family, I got an education, and had a good career. What do you mean we don't get very much from our toil? To answer that, we have to look at this verse in the context of chapter two.