The Vanity of all Things
The Book of Ecclesiastes is one of the most fascinating and puzzling book in the Bible. As I read the book I find that it is difficult to interpret it and at the same time prepare a sermon and preach about it. Though it’s a perplexing book, I trust that the Holy Spirit will help us to understand, appreciate, and love this book more.
I. The vanity of all things (Eccl. 1:2)
A. The meaning of the word vanity as we have seen last week means “futility,
B. In Hebrew it is “hebel” which means, emptiness or something transitory and
C. Solomon made a list of things that he considers vanity namely:
1. Human wisdom (Eccl. 2:14-16)
2. Human effort (Eccl. 2:18-23)
3. Human achievement (Eccl. 2:26)
4. Human Life (Eccl. 3:18-22)
5. Human rivalry (Eccl. 4:4)
6. Human selfish sacrifice (Eccl. 4:7,8)
7. Human power (Eccl. 4:16)
8. Human greed (Eccl. 5:10)
9. Human accumulation (Eccl. 6:1-12)
10. Human religion (Eccl. 8:10-14)
D. From the above list, we can see the uselessness of human efforts and achievement to be satisfied apart from Christ. Money, properties, fame, pleasure, and all things which this materialistic world has to offer are all nothing and cannot give real joy, peace of mind and eternal life if Christ is not in there.
Illustration: When You Get to The Top There’s Nothing There
Tennis star Boris Becker was at the very top of the tennis world—yet he was on the brink of suicide. He said, “I had won Wimbledon twice before, once as the youngest player. I was rich. I had all the material possessions I needed … It’s the old song of movie stars and pop stars who commit suicide. They have everything, and yet they are so unhappy. I had no inner peace. I was a puppet on a string.”
Becker is not the only one to feel that sense of emptiness. The echoes of a hollow life pervade our culture. One doesn’t have to read many contemporary biographies to find the same frustration and disappointment. Jack Higgins, author of such successful novels and The Eagle Has Landed, was asked
what he would like to have known as a boy. His answer: “That when you get to the top, there’s nothing there.” (Our Daily Bread)
II. Worldly Labour (Eccl. 1:3)
A. This is the question the “Preacher” asked. What profit has a man from all his labour in which he toils under the sun?” – Eccl. 1:3
1. Is there any value or profit for all the things we do on this earth?
2. If our labour is meaningless as far as this life is concerned, what can we do?
3. The term under the sun which occurred 29 times in 27 verses suggest “from an earthly point of view, or describes “daily life”
4. Well, I can say that all human work and all other things are meaningless if there is no God. True satisfaction comes from serving God and obeying His will.
5. Something to think about:
a. We all want to experience things in these life that are considered good,
beautiful, fulfilling, unique, etc., only to find that in the end its nothing.
b. There is joy in serving the Lord. Have you experience the peace beyond
understanding and the joy unspeakable in serving the Lord Jesus Christ?
c. Do you serve the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, with your everything?
d. Do you make yourself available to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
e. If God is calling you to serve Him, harden not your heart.
f. Have you ever asked Him how He can make use of you in the ministry?
B. Four Objectives For our Work (as Christian).
1. We work to bring glory to God.
Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
I Corinthians 10:31 speaks of whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
God can use us in the work place to bring glory to himself, through us.
2. Secondly, perhaps the most obvious, we work to gain a livelihood. Man, under the curse, is destined to work. And work we will. Paul even told these who refused to work. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
3. Thirdly, we work to have the resources to share with others.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour,
working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. To fulfil that objective, we must first set aside greed. We live in society that uses man’s greed as a motive to sell and to prosper. We have to fight greed, it is all around us. And one way to fight it is to give, not letting your right hand know what the left hand is doing. I read about one man who is rather successful and confided that he had a problem with greed, it was an easy trap of sin for him to fall into. He fought it by anonymously giving twenty, thirty bucks to people who he sensed had a need.
There is nothing wrong with wealth, there is everything wrong with greed.
4. Fourth objective of working is to witness for Christ.
Every Christian is in full time service for Jesus Christ. We can be witness for Him everywhere we go, in our workplace, in the office, in the gym, in the school or even in the super market. If given the opportunity, we must tell about Jesus and what He did for us.
Apart from God all the material things this world has to offer is meaningless. It cannot give us real satisfaction. The happiness we can get from it is just temporary and lasts only for a short time. Our labour is also futile if Christ is not in it. However, there is real joy in serving the Lord. We will have more this in the following weeks.