Ecclesiastes 2:1-17 (NRSV)
I said to myself, "Come now, I will make a test of pleasure; enjoy yourself." But again, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, "It is mad," and of pleasure, "What use is it?" I searched with my mind how to cheer my body with wine - my mind still guiding me with wisdom - and how to lay hold on folly, until I might see what was good for mortals to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works; I built houses and planted vineyards for myself; I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house; I also had great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got singers, both men and women, and delights of the flesh, and many concubines.
So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; also my wisdom remained with me. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly; for what can the one do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness.
The wise have eyes in their head,
but fools walk in darkness.
Yet I perceived that the same fate befalls all of them. Then I said to myself, "What happens to the fool will happen to me also; why then have I been so very wise?" And I said to myself that this also is vanity. For there is no enduring remembrance of the wise or of fools, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How can the wise die just like fools? So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a chasing after wind.
Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
Today's scripture reading reminds me of some advice I heard in church growing up. The preacher always used to say, "Only what you do for Christ will last!!"
It is so easy to get caught up in amassing fortune, reputation, and power. It is so simple to chase more and more stuff, convinced that one can never have enough of any good thing. It is so human to become selfish as we acquire things and to fail to share our abundance with others who have great need.
But, we must resist these temptations, dear friends! As Christians we are invited to have a different kind of relationship with our stuff. I have heard it said that we should use things and love people!
In a world where so many make the mistake of using people and loving things, Christians can proclaim a different kind of message that brings good news and true freedom to those who hear and obey it!
As we use our things to love God and other people, we won't be forced to proclaim, "So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a chasing after wind."
Instead, our lives will have great purpose! As we use our things to glorify God, we will find that we possess the greatest gifts of all--love, joy, and peace. These gifts of Spirit flow from God, through us, and into the lives of others!
We have a choice to make; we can labor and toil to no end, always angry, resentful, and never satisfied, or we can choose to work for Jesus--who lived, died, and rose again to make our lives meaningful by forgiving our sin, filling us with the Holy Spirit, and gifting us with eternal life.
Today, can be a Monday like no other! Your work can have meaning and purpose when you dedicate it unto the Lord and sow the seed of love everywhere that you go!
Let's pray: Great and Good God, thank you that you are calling me to greater service in the Kingdom of Love. You have abundantly blessed me, please help me to share my blessings with others. At the end of my days, I know that I can take nothing with me...so please help me to freely and liberally give to others, so that all may be the recipients of daily bread. I pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen.
If you have questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, “Come to Jesus” @ http://bit.ly/JVhaLta