Ecclesiastes 4:4-8 “Motivation and Work”

What motivates you in your work?
The reality for many of us is that this is a very dynamic and hard question to ask.  We often don’t analyse our own motives and instead often just go though the motions as we seek to provide for needs and desires.  In Colossians 3:23 Paul reminds us that no matter what we do, we should do it heartily as for the Lord and not for men.
The question then becomes;  Are you motivated by a desire to serve and please the Lord Jesus Christ in your work?  The reason this is so important to ask ourselves this question is because Solomon in Ecclesiastes 4:4-8 identifies two common, productive ways that we are motivated to work which aren’t healthy or biblical.  The first is to be motivated to work by envy, the second is to be motivated to work by discontentment.
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Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity[a] and a striving after wind.

The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.

Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

Ecclesiastes 3:16- 4:3 “Disillusioned”

To become disillusioned – you become disappointed in someone or something as you discover them to be less good than you had believed. For example – A pupil can become disillusioned when they take a complaint about bullying to the Principal who then proceeds to ignore his complaint because the bully is one of the star players in the first 15 rugby team.
Solomon is clearly in a state of disillusionment with the world and the people in it as he writes in this text today. The reason for his disillusionment being that he is seeing the horrible ways that people are willing to treat one another.
However, Solomon in this situation still remains hopeful. What is it promotes hope in such a depressing situation?
The hope he has that one day the Lord will come again to judge.
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Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:3

16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. 18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.[a] 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?

Evil Under the Sun

Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 “Purpose”

To have a strong sense of purpose is one of those things that we as humans seem to crave.
We seem to thrive, when we know what it is we want to do with our lives, that whatever we want to do is actually significant and that we are able to get it done.
The reality though, is that, We often experience frustration and confusion regarding our own particular purpose in this life.Which is what makes Solomon’s wisdom so helpful –  In Ecclesiastes 3 9-15 Solomon gives us a reason for why this frustration might exist.
That reason being that God in his wisdom has actually made it happen this way. Made in his Image, Made like Him, We have been designed with a desire to be purposeful. Yet we have been given limitations. We can’t perfectly understand our purpose. Why on earth would Ido do this? So that we continue to trust and worship him.
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Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.[a]

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “Practical, Relational and Emotional Seasons”

In the Dr. Seuss Book called ‘Oh the Places you’ll go!’ you read about a young man, whose time it is to go off to ‘great places’.

‘You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers

Who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind because you’ll have the speed.

You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.

Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.

Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.

Because sometimes you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so, But sadly its true

That bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.

Here Dr. Seuss captures a point in a way only he can, that our experience in this life will be a seasonal experience – it will have the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the success’ and the failures.

Today in Ecclesiastes 3 1-8 we will look at the Practical, Relational and Emotional Seasons we encounter in this life and ask ourselves how this helps us worship Jesus.

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “Season – 2”

The Byrd’s made Ecclesiastes 3 1-8 famous and at the same time neutralised the violent variance in the seasons. Today we are look at the ultimate seasonal experience for us – the seasons of our birth and death. In doing so we are going to embrace the variance and be asking ourselves, how then we are to respond to this reality? Life is fleeting, are we living in light of the fact that our death may come upon us at any second?

 
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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “Seasons 2”

Do we expect that this life will be linear… that our situation will continue to get progressively more comfortable, easy, happy, less stressful?  Solomon challenges this concept, arguing from his personal experience and even observation of others that life, in contrast to being linear, will be seasonal. It may even have harsh seasonal edges to it. Why does this matter? Because it helps us to Worship Christ and to walk through difficult seasons without becoming embittered towards God – even though those seasons can in fact be extraordinarily painful.

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

 

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 “Six Synthetic Soul Satisfiers”

Does Wine, Work or Entertainment truly satisfy us? Does Sex, Significance or a pretty home give us that soul settling satisfaction we so crave?
Today in Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us about the 6 Synthetic Soul Satisfiers he used in his search for satisfaction.
Laughter, Wine, Accomplishment, Possessions, Entertainment and Sex.
But do these things in themselves satisfy the cravings of our soul?
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Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.[a] I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines,[b] the delight of the sons of man.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11”A Mountaintop Perspective On Pleasure”

We have cravings for food, we have cravings for intimacy and we have soul cravings, cravings in the mysterious, non physical part of us. How do we satisfy those cravings?  We live in a world which tells us pleasure – enjoyed to the fullest – is the answer. But is it? The Preacher in Ecclesiastes confronts this head on, saying instead that those things will not satisfy in the long run.  What then does satisfy the cravings of our heart?
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I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.[a] I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines,[b] the delight of the sons of man.  So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, 2:12-17 “The Pursuit of Wisdom”

Like many of us, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes has been trying to understand the world he lives in. In order to do this he sets out to pursue  truth, wisdom and understanding. The only problem is, the more he sees, the more he is grieved, perplexed and humbled. He quickly realises, that despite learning things, both wise and foolish, he still has a finite ability to understand the perplexing world he lives in. The question then becomes, why would God allow this to happen to him? We see that God allows this to happen to people so that we can truly realise we are not the all knowing God – either as an individual or corporately. This, in a surprising way encourages us to trust in the Lord who does know all things, who is infinitely wise and who has shown us his wisdom in Jesus Christ, the Son.

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Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, 2:12-17

12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart[f] to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity[g] and a striving after wind.[h]

15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

 

Ecclesiastes 1:3-11

On the surface it appears that reading through the Book of Ecclesiastes would deflate, even the most bouncy, cup ‘half-full’, optimist.
On the surface it seems to sure up the foundations of those who possess a more ‘depressive skeptic’ personality type.
The Preacher speaks of vanity, he is saying, it’s futile to try and find true gain or ultimate fulfilment in the things we’re toiling towards
Fulfilment and true gain is something we can only experience once we are in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we see this in the invitation made by Jesus to those who are oppressed by their toil – he invites them to find rest in him.
Matthew 11 28-30
28 pCome to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”.
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Ecclesiastes 1:3-11

What does man gain by all the toil

    at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
    and hastens[a] to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
    there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has been already
    in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,[b]
    nor will there be any remembrance
of later things[c] yet to be
    among those who come after.

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    Starting December 25, 2016, Sunday Morning Worship takes place at 10am in the Piano, located on 156 Armagh Street. Free parking for GPC attendees is available off Oxford Terrace.