Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
1:2 Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
1:12 I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem,
1:13 applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with.
1:14 I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.
2:18 I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me
2:19 –and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity.
2:20 So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun,
2:21 because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.
2:22 What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun?
2:23 For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.
When you wake up every morning and go to bed every night, do you ever ask the question of what is it that you are living for? What about this world drives you to wake up in the morning and start your day and work as hard as you do to gain all the amount and success that one can attain in a life time.
These are thoughts and questions that this passage challenges us to think about. We must wonder what it is that we are seeking to gain from attempting to live a life of pleasure and success. How are we using our successes? Do we gloat, try harder to keep growing, remain humble, be thankful?
Vanity by its very definition means “excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements” The world is all about themselves. They are the centre of their own world and expect for other to see it as something admirable. This is a person who is characterized by their own ambition and seeks pleasure in only how their actions can please themselves-and to what end?
Being successful is not something that we should take pride in. Success if a major blessing from God and is also one that can be taken away if not used as a means to Glorify God and respond with thankfulness and humility. We are faced with only two options: to live for ourselves or to live for God.
Regardless of how much you achieve in this life, it is worthless if you are not walking in humility and seeking to use your resources as a means to Glorify and thank God. God alone can truly satisfy the desires of your heart. Do not waste your talents and resources as a means to bring yourself fame. Thank God for your successes and ask Him to use you as His tool to further advance His kingdom and bring Glory to Him.
The teacher in Ecclesiastes was wise, wealthy, and spent the most of his life trying to find meaning. What he finds to be of value is revealed in the end of the book but the build up to that are a number of chapters describing what seems to be every-day life. In chapters 1 and 2, the teacher is focusing on work, busyness, and toil. In the end it’s all meaningless. We will eventually pass away and leave all that we worked for to those who likely have not earned it.
We can spend our entire lives seeking to build an empire for ourselves but in the end it’s all meaningless. We cannot take our empire to heaven with is. There is not great heavenly reward to being rich. There is not heavily reward to working our lives away at the neglect of our loved ones. There is not heavenly reward for building up our own egos. There is no heavenly, reward for achieving status or notoriety. Instead, we must seek the things from above. We must seek the will of the Lord.
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