Today’s Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 10-12:14; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; Psalm 49:1-20; Proverbs 22:20-21
Thus far the teacher of Ecclesiastes has commented about how meaningless life is. Starting in chapter 10 he will start to make some observations about meaningful things.
It takes a lot of work to build a solid reputation. But it only takes a moment of foolishness to ruin it (Ecclesiastes 10:1). Therefore, our behavior is meaningful.
There will be many things in life that happen that are simply unfair. Some who are fools will be exalted while some who deserve recognition will be unknown (Ecclesiastes 10:7). That is life. There is no point in continually chasing after justice in this world.
It is meaningful to use our time wisely. Sometimes to make progress we have to spend time preparing for the future (Ecclesiastes 10:10).
Nations are blessed to have wise leaders (Ecclesiastes 10:17). The proof of poor leadership is a nation that is in decline.
One of the most important rules of investing is to diversify. Do not put your all your money into the stock of just one company or even into just one asset class. Interesting how this has been in the Bible for thousands of years, isn’t it (Ecclesiastes 11:2)? The Bible is historical, spiritual, and practical.
Life is wonderful and meant to be enjoyed. Those who learn this while they are young have a great advantage over those who don’t learn this until they get older. The problem with youth, though, is lack of wisdom and forgetting that all they do is seen by God (Ecclesiastes 11:9) or, even worse, forgetting God altogether (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Too many young people start off walking with God only to forget Him as they enter their high-school and college years. It is important to remember God while we are young (Ecclesiastes 12:5-6) before bad habits keep us away from Him.
Its always best to learn from someone who has experience. It seems like Solomon (who likely wrote this book) learned from his over-the-top lifestyle and is now passing on what he learned from his mistakes (Ecclesiastes 12:8-10).
Feedback from such wise people may sting at first but if applied to our lives such advice has the power to keep us from trouble (Ecclesiastes 12:11). Just think of the dentist. If you have a cavity he has to give you a shot. He then has to drill into your tooth. All the while he is hurting you. But he is not harming you. He is healing you.
When viewed as a random event, absent of a creator, life is meaningless. That has been the point of the teacher thus far. But since there is a God, everything we do matters (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Many deny that God exists. They do so to justify their thoughts, behaviors, and intentions. But the reality is God exists and there will be an accounting of everything we do.
Everything we do has meaning and importance, both for the present and for eternity.
Paul addresses the issue of giving in 2 Corinthians today and he holds up the churches in Macedonia as an example. The city of Macedonia, home of Alexander the Great, is known historically to be very poor as it was pummeled by conquering Rome.
Yet despite their poverty and trouble the people there gave generously to help the Christians in Jerusalem who were also poor but who were being persecuted (2 Corinthians 8:2).
The churches in Macedonia are a great example for us today when it comes to giving. They gave more than they could afford and they did so willingly (2 Corinthians 8:3). The concept of tithing, or giving 10%, is not a New Testament command. New Testament believers (that’s us) are commanded to give sacrificially – it should not be out of our excess. Nor should our giving be measured in dollar value, but instead by what it costs us.
The Macedonians also gave cheerfully. They wanted to give even though they did not have much. Giving makes us feel like we are part of a solution. And although these passages are about the giving of money, the principles hold true when it comes to the giving of our time as well.
Whatever we give is acceptable as long as we give it with a generous heart (2 Corinthians 8:12). Many people ask God to give them a generous heart so they can then give more. No. First give more, then you will have a generous heart. You can’t say “I’ll lift weights when I’m stronger”. You have to lift the weight first and in doing so you become stronger.
Looking at what we don’t have will cause us to hold back on our giving. Instead look at all you do have and that will make you more willing to give (2 Corinthians 8:12). Certainly in the United States, we all have been blessed with more than we need and can afford to give to others.
No one can redeem themselves from the grave (Psalm 49:7-9) no matter how much money they have. What a powerful message that is. Many people live their lives using their power and wealth to get what they want. They think they can deal with God similarly but this will not work (Psalm 48:11-14). Only God can redeem someone’s life. And that only happens through faith in Jesus Christ (Psalm 48:15).
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