Summary: This is the fourth message in a series from the book of Ecclesiastes that examines Solomon's wisdom in regard to the mistakes that he had made in his life. This message examines why God has wired us to need and desire relationships.
Dear Diary, “Every time I open myself up for a relationship I get kicked in the teeth. Why do we need relationships? Why should take the risk of being hurt again?” If you are like me you have been hurt and betrayed by someone you thought was your friend. These experiences really cause us to question whether or not we should risk forming relationships. Here’s the problem, relationships require us to open ourselves up and become vulnerable. Since we have all been burnt in the past, we are really cautious and slow to pour ourselves into a relationship. Here’s the truth, the more deeply someone knows us the more ammunition they have if they ever chose to turn their backs on us. So at all costs we strive to protect ourselves from being hurt once again. Paul Simon spoke for many of us when he penned the words of his song “I am A Rock.”
I’ve built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain
I am a rock. I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain.
And an island never cries.
These words express a deep pain that we all have felt at some time in our lives. The problem is that God has created us to need and desire relationships. To grow emotionally and spiritually we need relationships because they can provide encouragement and accountability. Solomon in our text provides some deep insights into the importance of relationships. Today, let’s work our way through this entry of Solomon’s diary to find out why relationships are worth the risks.
I. Individualism causes divisions and weakens effectiveness.
A. Solomon’s life was a tremendous example of individualism.
1. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. (Ecclesiastes 2:10—NIV 2011)
2. Solomon was self absorbed; he sought to fulfill all the desires in his life.
3. One would think that Solomon would have many friends due to his position and wealth. However, more often than not the exact opposite is true.
4. Wealth and power tend to separate people from others causing them to be isolated and lonely.
a. Wealth and power often makes one suspicious of others?
b. Wealth causes one to desire more and more.
5. One has to wonder if Solomon as he pens these words felt regret for not allowing himself to develop close relationships.
6. Perhaps Solomon found it meaningless because he had successfully missed out on the really important things of life.
B. The culture that we live in promotes individualism.
1. The main philosophy of this culture is self promotion. How many times have we heard the words, “Look out for number one”?
2. We are busy people and we allow what we perceive as being urgent to crowd out relationships.
3. Our culture thrives in the social media world; we have Facebook friends and followers on Twitter. The main problem is, deep relationships that go beyond surface chat are harder to come by.
4. A recent study found that those who seek to form relationships via the internet are much lonelier than those who seek relationships through more traditional means.
5. Everything is about me; this complicates the development of deep relationships because they require us not to be in a hurry and willing to put ourselves second to others.
C. Relationships do not flourish where individualism does.
1. How many people have successfully thrown marriages and close friendships under the bus because of the desire to pursue their own happiness?
2. According to a recent study more than twenty percent of the American population feels lonely.
3. Perhaps this is the reason that there are so many lonely people in the world. The culture applauds the self-made man and the one who doesn’t need anyone else.
4. Max Lucado in his book “It’s Not About Me” sums this all up. “We’ve been demanding our way since day one…I want a spouse that makes me happy and co-workers that always asks my opinion. I want weather that suits me and traffic that helps me and a government that serves me. Self-promotion, self-preservation, self-centeredness…it’s all about me.”
II. Relationships provide support during difficult times.
A. One is left to wonder if Solomon had someone he could always count on.
1. If his chariot broke down or if some other crisis came into his life, who would Solomon have called.
2. His father David had Jonathan early on and then Nathan the prophet throughout the remainder of his life. However, as we study Solomon’s life no such deep relationships are mentioned.
3. Solomon even missed out on the true deepness of the marriage relationship. When you have 700 wives how deep can the relationships really be?