By Brandon Lemons
This past Sunday’s sermon was on the topic of time. Time is our most precious commodity. Whether we like it or not, the clock is ticking. With each tick of the clock, our day is winding down. Our week is winding down. Our lives are winding down.
Ecclesiastes 3 provides valuable insight into why Qohelet (the author of Ecclesiastes) is frequently cynical and discouraged. It’s because he knows the clock is ticking toward death. The reality of death hangs over the book of Ecclesiastes like a heavy shadow that darkens everything. Qohelet’s perspective is expressed well in the words of Leo Tolstoy: “My question – which at the age of fifty brought me to the verge of suicide – was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man…a question without an answer to which one cannot live. It was: ‘What will come of what I am doing today or tomorrow? What will come of my whole life? Why should I live, why wish for anything, or do anything?’ It can also be expressed thus: ‘Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?’” This is a huge question that makes all the difference in how we interpret the meaning of life.
Qohelet looked at life on this earth like the board game Life. You collect a job, a spouse, a house, some kids; you make some money; you accrue some accomplishments; you retire. And then the game is over, and all the pieces go back in the box. This is how Qohelet viewed life, and it caused him to wonder, “What’s the point?”
Jesus’ resurrection can change our entire perspective on life, time, and death. Qohelet wasn’t sure what happened after death. But we know. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 is devoted to the implications of Jesus’ resurrection. At the end of the chapter, in verse 58, the apostle Paul said: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Do you remember the refrain of Ecclesiastes? “All is vanity.” “Everything is in vain.” The Gospel says, “No it’s not!” “Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” If we invest our time and energy in things that matter in light of eternity – especially in our own relationship with God and in loving others as ourselves – we have the promise that the pieces don’t go back in the box at the end. They carry on into eternity.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on some questions based on Ecclesiastes 3. As you reflect on these questions, you might find it helpful to write out your thoughts and responses. It’s important to take your time and be honest. Also, it would be good to talk with God about your responses.
Thus far in the Ecclesiastes series, how is my perspective on the meaning of life being clarified or refined?
Busyness is frequently cited as a primary factor that can distract us from God and from the things that matter most. How does busyness impact: My relationship with God? My relationships? My character and attitude? My ministry to others?
What is one practical step I can take to invest my time better in growing in my own relationship with God and/or in helping others grow closer to God?
If the topics and questions during the Ecclesiastes series are troubling for you, you’re not alone! We are diving into some difficult emotional and spiritual territory. In the upcoming weeks, we will continue to discover the meaning God has for our lives; however, if at any time you feel overwhelmed or depressed over these topics, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or another staff member.