His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
“It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 7:5-6)
Cycles of nature—I find it interesting that this time of the year is designated autumn, but we often dub it as fall. Fall? Is that because leaves fall, or fruits fall, or I’m not sure why we call it fall.
No matter what we call it, autumn or fall, it’s my favorite time of the year. I have a throwback poem by James Whitcomb Riley that is one of my favorite poems that I mention every year, “When the Frost is on the Pumpkin.” It’s all about autumn and the harvest and the fragrance and abundance of life.
Abundance? Life? Two of my favorite questions… or maybe it’s really only one question—What does it look like?
From Michael Knowles: “So many have gotten duped by society. Our entire culture has told them to put off getting married, don’t have kids. Just focus on their career. Get an endless series of degrees. Don’t go to church. Don’t believe in anything above yourself. Life is about nothing more than bingeing Netflix and traveling around the world, having fun experiences, and going to brunch.”
When Frodo in “Lord of the Rings” movie complains about wishing this time hadn’t ever come to him, Gandalph replies that it’s irrelevant. Basically it is as Ecclesiastes says, “Time and Chance happens to us all,” and Gandalph replies to Frodo “All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Gandalph from J.R.R Tolkien.
What does an abundant life look like? At one time it looked like a husband and wife, owning their own home, and Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, and… a cat. However, as Michael Knowles pointed out that’s not in today’s society.
“Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9-10)
What is important at the beginning of life may not be what’s important at the end. How does anyone know what will be important? If we lean on our own understanding or our own wisdom we will come up with as many different ideas as there are individuals. In the end, it will be like Bill Watterson’s comic paper conclusion in Calvin and Hobbes—Everything is going to implode and nothing will matter…
In a recent article, the writer expressed how he wished he had read Ecclesiastes and Proverbs when he was much younger. He thought it would have helped him avoid some of his mistakes, yet…
Yes, there is so much wisdom, but… Like all wisdom, you will only find it if you are looking.
How much do we miss of all the things we see when we see if we aren’t looking? Maybe we aren’t looking at the right thing, or not looking for the right thing. Nevertheless, we don’t see.
The Bible’s wisdom is timeless. The Psalms have been deemed the highest form of poetry by the experts. And again, Ecclesiastes has so much to tell us. However, and I believe I gleaned this from something Seth Godin wrote:
“But the time we spend arguing about proof that we’re not prepared to accept is simply wasted. Belief needs proof the way a fish needs a bicycle.”
If someone isn’t prepared to accept the timeless truth, or if they aren’t looking for and not wanting those truths, the time is wasted. How many times do we as Christians scour land and sea, going near and far, telling people about Jesus and salvation and the love of God, and preaching the Word? We may gather a few interested souls, but sometimes it seems like few and far between. We wonder, why are not more people looking? But the answer lies therein—they aren’t looking.
Yet, we continue to sow the seed, as in the Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13, Mk. 4, &Lk. 8). Sometimes in the same places we have sown before, because people who weren’t ready to receive at one time may be ready at other times. It was the Apostle Paul who declared, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
Back to the theme of an abundant life and what it looks like. Does it look like a bigger house, a fancier car, or nicer clothes? When you chase happiness what do you get? It is important to remember those things won’t bring people lasting happiness. The Bible warns us not to work for or “labor for the wind”.
“And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?” Ecclesiastes 5:16
Some of those things may last a long time on this earth, such as a new car, house, or whatnot, but not always, and there are some things we don’t want to sacrifice to end up with a mouth full of gravel as in Ecclesiastes 5:17 “All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.”
In the end, no matter if we gain wealth and /or honor and fame what matters is peace and contentment. “Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. (Ecclesiastes 5:18 & 19) Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.”