I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work,
and this was the reward for all my labor.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
What is it worthwhile for us to do under heaven during the few days of our lives? Wow. That puts a few things into perspective, doesn't it?
It kind of sounds to me like Solomon was doing some experiments here. It says that even while he was cheering himself with wine, undertaking projects, and indulging in pleasure, sexual and otherwise, he says "my mind still guiding me with wisdom". So he wasn't just rampantly reveling in everything without any control or thought about what he was doing, but he was testing, trying out, and experimenting, seeking what would give a person the most satisfying life possible. And guess what? A chasing after the wind, he says.
From The Vanity of Pleasure by Aaron Sturgill, the following excerpt made me think about my priorities:
- If I could just get a little raise at work, we would be happy; and our marriage wouldn’t be such a struggle.
- I understand that alcohol can be dangerous, but I’m able to control it. After all, nowhere in scripture does it say I can’t drink. I have the freedom in Christ to do what I want.
- If my spouse were more attentive to my sexual needs I wouldn’t have committed adultery, looked at pornography, dressed immodestly, flirted with another employee, etc.
- I know we need to be more involved with church and serving but I have a cabin. I need to use it; after all, I get to see the creation of God every time I sit on my porch. It is such a wonderful experience.
- I have such a rigorous music practice that I don’t have time for a consistent devotional life.
- God, I will not be satisfied in you, I will only be satisfied if I receive financially what is due me.
- God I will ignore your clear dangers of alcohol in scripture and will instead yield to my own selfish desires with no thought to others or your glory.
- God, I want to obey you, but I demand sex when I desire it. I will do what I have to, to fulfill my fleshly desires.
- God, I know you desire for me to be an active part of the church body, but my own selfish and fleeting pleasures (such as sports, nature, relaxation, TV, more money) are more important than what you want.
I venture to say, in the end, that the work itself, for whom we do it, and how we go about it, is more important than the actual accomplishment in the end, as far as a satisfying life goes. We always think that the people who have lots of time to relax and pursue activities for enjoyment are happy, or at least happier than those of us who have lots to do all the time and little time to relax or pursue leisure activities. But I wonder how satisfying it is? I'm sure they enjoy their free time and leisure activities, but would they consider their lives satisfying? Would they feel fulfilled and purposeful? I don't know.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ecclesiastes 2:12-16.