It’s All Meaningless 6? Contentment Or Envy (Ecclesiastes 4:4-8 & 5:10-20)
Ecclesiastes 4:4-8: “And I saw that all toil and all achievement
spring from one person’s envy of another.
This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
5 Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves.
6 Better one handful with tranquility
than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.
7 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:
8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—a miserable business!”
Ecclesiastes 5:10-20: “Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied w/their income.
This too is meaningless.
11 As goods increase, so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?
12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.
13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
14 or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit.
15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.
16This too is a grievous evil: As everyone comes, so they depart,
and what do they gain, since they toil for the wind?
17 All their days they eat in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger.”
So much in these passages we must be careful to realize that the LORD
is not saying that wealth inherently is bad,
for in the next verses Solomon says that wealth is a gift from God
when He gives someone wealth and the ability to enjoy it.
But please don’t miss that distinction: we actually need God
to give us the ability to humbly enjoy His blessings as a gift
and not turn them into idols,
which actually takes away our ability to enjoy them
because we’re enslaved by those same blessings!
- Dangerous when a dog walks the human
instead of the human walking the dog;
- Dangerous when wealth holds the leash & the collar is around our neck
instead of the other way around.
Sin is a task-master, sin is slavery, & treating wealth as if we NEED it to be happy
takes away our ability to enjoy it as a gift from our Father.
- When the wind is a gift from God to cool us on a hot day,
passing from our face to others’ faces generously, what meaning!
- When we chase the wind as our god & try to keep it for ourselves
to live in perpetual coolness & avoid sweating, what meaninglessness!
But let’s focus on the verse in 4:4 & 5:10: “And I saw that all toil and all achievement
spring from one person’s envy of another…
Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.”
Envy In The Culture Or Contentment In Christ?
Striving As A Consumer Or Satisfaction As A Christian?
Is this even possible while we’re on earth: contentment & satisfaction in the Lord?
Do we need to just grit our teeth & endure
on this side of eternity & wait until heaven for true satisfaction?
John 10:10: “I came that they would have life, and have it to the full.”
Ephesians 3:17-19:“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
18may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Oh not just to have enough of the Lord Jesus to be saved/forgiven,
but to be FULL of Him as well!
Psalm 131: 2But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.
Psalm 19:23: The fear of the Lord leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
Psalm 73:23-26: Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 103:1-5: Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 145:15-19: “The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.”
Even peace itself has satisfaction & contentment wrapped up in it—
a person experiencing peace is both satisfied & content all at the same time.
John 14:26-27:But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Yes, my dear friends, Christ can make us alive & transform us
to be more content & satisfied in Him
and hunger less for sin & stuff….
But How Do We Do This?
Philippians has many important steps to contentment in Christ,
to satisfaction in the Savior.
In Philippians 4 Paul reveals the contentment he has learned,
and when we read backwards in that same letter we see some of the ways
God taught Paul to be content!
- Philippians 4:11-13: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any & every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
We must LEARN contentment,
both in poverty AND wealth,
hard times AND easy times!
- Philippians 3:7-14: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss
for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss
because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
for whose sake I have lost all things.
I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him,
not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law,
but that which is through faith in[a]Christ—
the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
10 I want to know Christ—
yes, to know the power of his resurrection
and participation in his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death,
11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.zz 12Not that I have already obtained all this,
or have already arrived at my goal,
but I press on to take hold of that
for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind
and straining toward what is ahead,
14I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
KNOW HIM! The more we know Him the less we’ll chase substitutes/counterfeits.
PRESS ON to know Him, STRAIN toward what is ahead—knowing Him!!!!
Hebrews 13:5-6: Keep your lives free from the love of money
and be content with what you have,
because God has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”
6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. W
hat can mere mortals do to me?”
That’s part of the “secret” of being content:
our discontent has nothing to do with not HAVING enough of something,
but everything to do with not TRUSTING/KNOWING the LORD enough!
Seek Him earnestly with all your heart,
and enlist other Christians here to train & run with you as you seek Him—
you cannot do this alone!!!
- Philippians 4:4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.
6 Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Rejoice in the LORD & pray to the LORD with thanksgiving—He is near! Rinse & repeat!
- Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—
put it into practice.
And the God of peace will be with you.
What we think about is directly connected with what we do!
The not so secret secret to contentment:
don’t think about & stare at what the world is expensively SELLING—
what good is it for a person to gain the whole world but forfeit their soul?—
stare at & think about & treasure what the Lord Jesus has freely GIVEN—Himself!
Don’t focus on the stuff you don’t have
but the salvation you do have in Christ!
Oh the importance of what we think about, what we fill our minds with,
what we watch, & always reflecting on the Bible!
More on this next post if God is willing…
As we wrap up, when we consider envy, contentment, discontentment, satisfaction,
we must ultimately look at Christ Jesus.
We must gaze, not glance, at Him.
If you’re in Christ by repentance of sin & faith,
if you’ve received Him as your Savior & King,
- do you know what has happened to you?
- do you know what God did to enable you to believe?
2 Corinthians 4:4-6: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers,
so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ,
who is the image of God.
5 For what we preach is not ourselves,
but Jesus Christ as Lord,
and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.
The LORD has made us alive in Christ when we were dead in our sins!
We don’t need anything else to FEEL alive…we ARE alive,
truly living in Him Who died & rose again!
Oh we must remind ourselves of this glorious Truth everyday!
The LORD has shined His light in our formerly pitch-black dark hearts…
we can see Him by faith,
we can see His gracious love thru the cross & empty tomb,
when before it was either nonsense or a fairy-tale
or offensive to our self-sufficient pride or simply unimpressive…
- Like a dear brother in Christ who tells me about medical missions
where eye surgeons travel the world offering free cataract removal surgery…
people who groped around in darkness for years
are able to have their vision restored the next day—oh the joy of sight!
We have been given the eyes of faith
that were once blind to the LORD’s grace & Truth,
and our new eyes are not to focus on what we used to grope after,
we aren’t to use our eyes to stare at what we USED to long for,
what non-Christians stare at,
we are to stare at CHRIST HIMSELF—
HE is our treasure that will never fade, spoil, disappear, or be stolen!
By grace we can see what is truly beautiful & meaningful:
- God & His glorious qualities,
- Who He is,
- what He has done,
- what He will do,
all an undeserved gift 2us His adopted children!
Let’s pant after Him & His Living Waters,
not the world’s saltwater.
Don’t shuffle & grope as we used to in darkness
for whatever sin will give you a temporary sugar rush—
it always crashes you lower than you were before!
No, run & leap for joy in Christ—
I RUN in the path of your commands,
He has enabled me to leap like a deer on the high mountains,
run & not grow weary by waiting on—STARING AT!—the LORD!
- “The person who has Christ and everything else,
has no more than the person who only has Christ”–C.S. Lewis.
Oh God help us make You the meal we feast on each day,
not the decorative garnish on the side of our plate
as we eat everything else in the buffet of life…
The spiritual dehydration of not seeking the LORD & knowing Him
leads us to grab any cold beverage offered us,
with devastating results…
As we are hydrated by the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ,
as we drink His Living Waters thru the Bible & faith in action each day,
we say no to the world’s sand & saltwater
& invite others to stop chasing the wind
& instead chase Him Who controls the wind.
One of the best reasons to seek contentment from the LORD
is because it will strengthen us to give give give ourselves
back to Him and out to others.
“Freely you have received, freely give”, Matthew 10.
But I cannot truly give until it hurts
if I am clinging to what I have
for my identity, for my worth, for my happiness.
But as we are satisfied & content in Christ alone,
we can give all of ourselves away.
Hands that cling to the Lord Jesus
can freely give away that which we used to clutch…
My friends, we don’t need what is new
to find rest for our souls, to be content;
We need Him Who is old:
Jeremiah 6:16—“ This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is,
and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
By God’s grace, may we say each day by faith,
“We WILL walk in it, the ancient paths—with You, the Ancient of Days,
the Way and the Truth and the Life…”
What a privilege for us to walk His ancient path together…