October 12, 2005

Emptiness Without Christ

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, 24-26

1 I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 "Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?" 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly--my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well--the delights of the heart of man. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. 10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; 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. 24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.


Without [God], who can eat or find enjoyment?

Ecclesiastes 2:25

People always seem to be searching for the good life. But what is the good life anyway? For some, it's a successful career. For others, it's getting married and having a family. For still others, it's having a million dollars in the bank--or all of the above! Whatever a person's idea of the good life is, it usually means having or doing something more than they have or can do now.

The writer of Ecclesiastes had an insatiable appetite for the good life. Read through the opening chapters of Ecclesiastes, and you'll see that he tried knowledge and education, pleasure and entertainment, wealth and possessions. He partied, plotted, and perused everything the world has to offer. He acquired much and achieved much. But in the end he was left empty inside.

Human nature hasn't changed much in the past 3,000 years. Many people still search for the good life in all the wrong places. A staff member of a large, growing church recently told me of hearing many faith stories from new believers who "had it all" but were still empty inside. The good news is that now they know Jesus.

In our attempts to reach out in Jesus' name, let's not be intimidated by what people have acquired and achieved. Nothing satisfies like Jesus. The greatest discovery is to learn that losing yourself in Jesus and in his purpose for life is the only way to have true, lasting joy.

Lord, may we discover anew that the good life is found only in relationship with you. Fill us with yourself. May our spiritual hunger draw us and others to your side. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Dan Jongsma

Daniel Jongsma serves as an interim pastor in Fulton, Illinois. He has pastored congregations in Elmhurst and Fulton, Illinois; in Dearborn, Michigan; and in Nashville, Tennessee. Dan also served as a church planter in the Chicago area. He and his wife, Gloria, have three daughters and four grandchildren.

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