Summary: Dealing with people who live under the false hope of "I will be happy ....?
A study of the Book of Ecclesiastes
Finding Satisfaction In Life
Sermon # 3
“When All You Have Ever Wanted Is Not Enough”
In the light of the title of this message, “When all you have ever wanted is not enough” I want to begin by asking some very simple questions but with very difficult answers. 1). Are you happy? 2).What is it that will finally make you happy? 3). When will you finally be happy?
So many people live under the false hope of “I will be happy when…..!” Every one of us has some-thing or some set of circumstances in the back of our mind that we anticipate will make us happy. We assume that once we achieved this, experienced this, once we have accomplished this, then we will be satisfied and finally be happy!
If you have lived this life very long you probably can look back at your life at some point and see that at some point you thought you would be happy if you just accomplished this or acquired that. And so you worked with that end in mind and upon attaining it did not provide the lasting happiness that you thought it would bring. Peter Kreeft says this kind of living is like a “wild goose chase, without the goose.” So you keep working harder and harder to make more money, climb the corporate ladder, pursue new relationships, with hope that then we finally find satisfaction and be happy. All the while missing out on the blessings of what we already have.
I read a story about a rich American businessman while vacationing in Mexico who was disturbed to find a fisherman just sitting lazily beside his boat. "Why aren't you out there fishing?" he asked. "Because I've caught enough fish for today," said the fisher-man. "Why don't you catch more fish than you need?" the rich man asked. "What would I do with them?" "You could earn more money," came the impatient reply, "and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase better nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you'd have a fleet of boats and be rich like me." The fisherman asked, "Then what would I do?" "You could sit down and enjoy life," said the industrialist. "What do you think I'm doing now?" the fisherman replied.
The first chapter revealed Solomon as he looked for the meaning of life in wisdom (gaining more and more knowledge) and having found no satisfaction there he turns to a new pursuit of meaning of life. We have a modern term for this it is called hedonism. Hedonism is the principle that pleasure is the sole or chief good in life and the pursuit of it is the ideal aim of conduct.
Solomon describes the search that he is going to go on. It is a quest for pleasure. He is searching for relief from the futility of life through pleasure. He actually catalogues for us the different ways in which he pursued pleasure. He gives us the possibilities that he investigated; alcohol, comedy, self-motivated building projects, entertainment, servants, music and sex. Solomon had everything necessary to carry out his grand experiment. He had almost unlimited resources, money, and time.
Solomon begins by saying, “I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure” (v. 1). Everything included in this brief statement is of importance. “I said in my heart” it does not seem that Solomon in any way looked for divine counsel. An important word, which gets repeated in every single verse, is the word “I”. There are so much “me, myself and I” in these verses we come to under-stand that this pursuit of pleasure is all for himself. Solomon says, “I will test” indicates that that what follows is a deliberate experiment, a deliberate attempt to discern from personal experience.
We of course have many contemporary examples of individuals who lived lives devoted to pleasure; Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix. All of them sought pleasure and all of them died young.
Let’s examine the various avenues that Solomon used in the pursuit of the meaning of life.
First, The Pursuit of Pleasure. (2:1-3)
“I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. (2) I said of laughter—“Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” (3) I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives.”