Joy in Vanity

“22What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23For all his days are full of sorrow and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. 24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God…” — Ecclesiastes 2:22-24 (ESV)

I have been focused over the past week or so on the book of Ecclesiastes. On the surface one can take this book to be a negative account of life; a book where Solomon takes the chance to recount everything that is wrong with the world around us…and on many accounts leave us in a situation where we can look at the world today and agree.

But I want to shed light on what I feel Solomon is really trying to convey through this book. It is written almost like a sermon, giving us insight into life from his personal experiences and observances. Solomon speaks to the reader with encouragement about the vanities of life. He states early in the book that, “all is vanity,” and continues on giving examples of our vain lives.

From our striving to become the best looking person we know, to being someone that leaves a legacy and is remembered by the toys or wealth we have, Solomon uses his wisdom to share insight.

The key to the book comes when Solomon really explores the heart of the matter, and shifts from what is vain, to what can bring us true joy in our times of weakness. He mentions that we seek to fill our empty lives with pleasure, work, and other things that will give us a moment of joy in a world of heartache…but he then says to focus on God. Consider everything a blessing!

The only way to truly enjoy our menial lives is to focus wholly on God and the blessings that he gives us daily! Too many times we get stuck in the negative things of life, but what we can learn from the book of Ecclesiastes is that we can find God in every moment we live.

It is our purpose on earth. In the final chapter, Solomon shares the most important message from his ‘sermon’ when he states:

“ 13The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” – Ecc. 12:13-14 (ESV)

Fear God, keep His commandments, for this is the WHOLE duty of man! It is our purpose…it is why we were made!

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