Thursday, November 2, 2017
Daily reading assignment – Ecclesiastes 3-4
Our reading in the Book of Ecclesiastes continues today with Ecclesiastes 3-4. Rather than a book of happy reflections, Solomon bares his heart in Ecclesiastes and gives us an opportunity to ponder the empty soul of an elderly man whose lusts have taken him far from the LORD. In a statement of the obvious, Solomon writes, “To every thing there is a season [a time appointed], and a time to every purpose [matter; purpose; pleasure] under the heaven [sky]” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
I did not appreciate the passing of time and the seasons when I was young; however, I sometimes catch myself reflecting on the past as I grow older. Whether physically or in my thoughts, I go home and visit places that hold meaning from my youth. Familiar places; unmarked landmarks hold precious, childhood memories. When I visit cemeteries and see familiar names inscribed on tombstones, voices long silenced by death resonate in my thoughts…Ricky Flynn, Mazzie Plyler, Leola Sapp, Parnell Threatt, Roland and Sadie Whitley, Dena Plyler remind me… “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted” (3:2).
Consider with me some truths we can glean from Solomon’s ponderings. The first, apart from God man’s life is aimless, purposeless. Solomon asks, “What profit [gain; advantage] hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?” (3:9). In other words, what does a man have to show for his toil in this earthly life?
Another truth, God has placed in the heart of man the reality of eternity and a longing He alone can satisfy. Solomon writes,
Eccles. 3:11 – He hath made every thing beautiful in his time [season]: also he hath set [put] the world [lit. eternity] in their heart [mind; thoughts], so that no man can find out [suffice or satisfy] the work [deeds; activity] that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
Men and women turn to drugs, alcohol and amusements attempting to fill the void in their souls only God can satisfy. The successful, beautiful and powerful of the world learn too late that wealth, material possessions, fame and popularity are fleeting and temporal.
Eccles. 3:19-20 – “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. 20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
We can take many lessons from today’s scripture; however, I will focus on only one: You Need to Be Needed! Consider three principles of truth from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
The first, working with others is satisfying and more rewarding than working alone (4:9-10). Solomon writes,
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 – “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
Like oxen who are stronger and more productive when they share the same yoke, people working together are more satisfied in their work (4:9). Working together discourages selfishness and self-centeredness (4:10) and provides an opportunity of encouraging others.
A second truth concerning the Need to Be Needed is, working with others encourages perseverance and protects (4:11-12).
Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 – “Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken”
Investing your life and time in others gives you the privilege and comfort of the “huddle” in hard times. Like a husband and wife who find warmth together on a cold night, we encourage and are encouraged when we “huddle”… laughing together, crying together, working together makes us stronger! When an enemy threatens and difficult times come, a sincere friend will do all they can to huddle with you and keep you from falling or failing (4:12).
A third truth, God made us individuals; however, He never meant for us to be alone.
Everything God created in the beginning was perfect and good (Genesis 1-2). However, after creating Adam, “the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone…” (Genesis 2:19).
We are happiest when needed! We are more effective in our work and less likely to give up when we work with others striving for the same goals. Someone has said, “A friend is someone who comes in when the rest of the world has walked out.”
While breaking baseball’s “color barrier,” Baseball legend and Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing in his home stadium in Brooklyn, Robinson committed an error and his own fans began to ridicule him.
Standing at second base, alone and humiliated, shortstop “Pee Wee” Reese came over and stood next to Robinson. Putting his arm around Robinson, “Pee Wee” faced the crowd until the fans grew silent. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.
Investing your time and life in loving and helping others can help you overcome bouts of loneliness, discouragement and depression!
Friend, you Need to be Needed!
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith