Summary: Solomon is troubled by the unfairness of life. But he was the king - why didn't he just legislate away injustice and punish all the wrong-doers and give away some his vast wealth to feed the poor? Why wouldn't that work?
OPEN: Awhile back there was an article that appeared in a Kentucky newspaper which read:
"I used to think I was poor. Then they told me I wasn't poor, I was needy.
Then they told me it was self-defeating to think of myself as needy, that I was culturally deprived.
Then they told me 'deprived' was a bad image, that I was underprivileged.
Then they told me that 'underprivileged' was overused, that I was disadvantaged.
I still don't have a dime, but I have a great vocabulary."
In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon deals with an issue that frustrates many people in our world. It’s the issue of “unfairness”. That things just aren’t always right and fair in this life.
Solomon was reflecting on this truth when he wrote:
“Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:I saw the tears of the oppressed— and they have no comforter;power was on the side of their oppressors— and they have no comforter.” Ecclesiastes 4:1
Inside each one of us is an inner voice that tells us that all things should be fair.That’s why we have referees in sports games and judges in courtrooms:we have an innate sense of right and wrong. And we serve the God of the universe who tells us that there is a right and there is a wrong.
But then we see oppression, tragedy and sorrow.
And inside of us there’s this inner voice that says:
“That just not right”
“This shouldn’t be happening!”
“How could we possibly fix this great injustice of life?”
The problem is that there are two conflicting truths about life’s unfairness that drive us nuts.
The first truth is that – no matter how hard we try – we’re never going to fix the problem.
Life is always going to be unfair.
For example Jesus said: “You will always have the poor among you…” John 12:8
Have you ever heard that?
Of course you have… and He DID say that.
Now, there are those who look at what Jesus said there and they feel like throwing up their hands and just walking away. After all, if the poor are always going to be with us… why should we bother to try to help them to begin with? It’s not going to do any good.
That may have been one of the motivating factors in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus that Jesus told. He said:
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.
At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.
In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
"But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.”
Now, why was the rich man not sharing anything with Lazarus? Well, the Bible doesn’t say, but I personally think he was thinking:
• Why doesn’t that guy go out and get a job or something?
• He’s always out there every day asking for food. It’s really annoying!
• If I gave HIM food, it was just encourage all the other beggars to come annoy me.
• And besides, we’re always going to have the poor with us, so my little bit of food won’t make a dent.
The point of Jesus’ story was - DON’T GO THERE.
Don’t you go making excuses for why you don’t help the poor.
The rich man ignored Lazarus’ hunger… and we all know where HE went.
And that brings us to our 2nd truth:
Yes, life is always going to be unfair.
But God says it doesn’t matter. He calls His people to work at “fixing it.”
ILLUS: The story’s told of a man who’d seen an injustice in his city, and in frustration he prayed to God “Why aren’t you doing something about this?”
And God’s voice came to him and said:
“I did do something. I sent you.”
You know I learned something new when preparing this sermon.
Did you realize that when Jesus said “you’ll always have the poor among you”, he was quoting the Old Testament?
Yeah – it’s true.