Wisdom, Pleasure And Joy
17/18 JULY 2021 | TRADITIONAL AND PRAYER & PRAISE SERVICES
Rev Benjamin Lau
Scripture Passage: Ecclesiastes 2:1-26 (NIV)
WATCH | SERMON (VIDEO)
(Sermon recorded at 9.30am Traditional Service)
READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary | Ecc 2 reveals the writer’s struggles to find true satisfaction in life. He pursued pleasures, wealth, power, prestige and concluded that they are all worthless and meaningless. Such desires are insatiable and do not truly satisfy. Where do we find meaning and significance in our lives?
Three observations made by the writer:
1. The Reflection of Life (v1-11)
One word that is repeated many times throughout the reflection is “I”. The writer looks back on his life without God, a life that is self-directed, self-sufficient and inward-looking. Such a life is bound for misery and disappointment. Selfish pursuits lend themselves to exploit others leading to broken relationships and hearts. We are created to be channels and not reservoirs of God’s love. Things of the world never truly satisfy as they are all temporal.
2. The Reality of Life (v12-23)
The writer noted that the wise and wealthy will die, just like the fool. He hated life with all its meaningless striving and labour, yet he was afraid to die. We may feel empty especially in this pandemic as we struggle with health and mental issues, conflicts, uncertainties, etc. Carefully made plans have to be changed and aborted because of changing conditions. There are moments in our lives when we can relate to v21-23 and everything appears pessimistic at this point.
3. The Renewed Perspective of Life (v24-26)
Everything changes when we accept what life should be –be grateful to God, enjoy Him and give all glory to Him. We should read Ecc with the New Testament in mind to see the complete picture. The apostle Paul had everything but realised that all is rubbish compared to God (Phi 3:8). He had much joy when he pursued Jesus and remained in Him (Jn 15:9-11). Joy is not an emotion but sustains and strengthens us in tough times as we remain in Christ and live as true disciples of Jesus. Happiness comes from circumstances but joy comes from Christ. Christian ministry that is dependent on human effort and not centred on God is also meaningless. Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain (Ps 127:1). God created us to love Him, serve Him and fellowship with Him. Apart from God, life will be meaningless.
Some suggestions on how to lead meaningful lives:
- Cultivate a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving (Col 3:15-17). Be grateful and give thanks for the little things in life, even in difficult times.
- Work for the Lord (Col 3:23-24). Include Jesus in all work, pleasure and interaction; do everything to please and glorify God.
- Delight in the Lord and enjoy His presence (Ps 37:4, 16:11). When we delight in God, He aligns our desires to His and we will find in His presence fullness of joy, even though there will be challenges.
What would truly satisfy us? Do we strive for wisdom, pleasure or happiness through human effort or find fulfilment in God? There is only one way – fix our eyes on Jesus, give Him priority in life and abide in Him.
(Sermon Notes by Woo Choi Yin)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. What is your key take away from today's message?
2. How are you feeling towards your work and life today, are you finding meaning in what you do?
3. Share a challenging period of your life, and how did you overcome it?
4. How can we have renewed perspective of life? What are practical steps you can take to include Jesus Christ in your work and life daily?