“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher.
“Vanity of vanities! All [that is done without God’s guidance] is vanity [futile, meaningless—a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind].”
Prosperity Comes from the Lord.
A Song of [a]Ascents. Of Solomon.
127 Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
What does it mean to you to have “good” and “safe and sound” quality of life?
A Sound Mind? Good health? Harmony at home? A happy heart? Financial security? Freedom of speech and worship? A fulfilling career? Grateful and content children? A meaningful marriage? A life of significance? A Soul which boasts of its “perfect balance between Shalom and Chaos? Peace with God?
An interesting question to ask considering the turmoil which is probably swirling around your existence right now from the gravity of Supreme Court decisions to their ramifications and the socio-economic realities we live in.
Undoubtedly, the balance between these realities and our peace of mind makes up a life we have to decide is worth the living in and through —a quality life?
“Vanity of Vanities,” says the Preacher ….
What do we say of the Quality of Life of “a Preacher” who starts his message with “Vanity of Vanities?” Throws words such as “meaningless, “a wisp of smoke that vanishes, a wisp of smoke which merely wastes its time chasing after the wind which it can never catch, nor can it ever hope to grasp onto.”
What is the quality of this “Preachers” relationship with the world around him?
Moreover, the quality of our lives is mightily determined by the quality of our relationships.
Who we spend time with is who we become.
If we spend time with those wise in their finances, and if we pay attention, we can become wise in our own finances.
If we are intentional in our faith, we will worship with those of great faith.
The Quality of our life is a reflection of the Quality of our relationships.
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20
So, how is your relational portfolio?
Are you diversified with people who bring value to all aspects of your life?
Conversely, are you intentional to invest time and interest in those who look to you for guidance?
Quality of life flows not from just receiving wisdom, but from giving wisdom.
Quality of Wisdom works in both directions for the good of the relationship.
What would we say about the Quality of our Life, the Quality of our Wisdom?
What does the “Preacher” have to say about the Quality of his Life’s Wisdom?
Ecclesiastes 1:12-14Amplified Bible
The Futility of Wisdom
12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my mind to seek and explore by [man’s] [a]wisdom all [human activity] that has been done under heaven. It is a miserable business and a burdensome task which [b]God has given the sons of men with which to be busy and distressed. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity, a futile grasping and chasing after the wind.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
What would we say about the Quality of our Life, the Quality of our Wisdom?
How well do we relate or not relate to these words of “the Preacher” spoken to who knows who and when and who knows why some three thousand years ago?
Is there. or is there not a certain degree of resonance raising up within you in this moment when you read and confront the title: “The Futility of Wisdom?”
Whose Quality of Wisdom do you think is the most vain and the most futile?
His own or His God’s?
If you had to consider your own answer on this day in 2022, whose quality of Wisdom, whose Quality of Life, would be the most vain and the most futile?
The Quality of Your Wisdom drawn from the Quality of Your Life?
The Quality of Your God’s Wisdom drawn the Quality of His Life?
The harder we try to understand the book of Ecclesiastes, the greater is our own temptation to immediately chime in with the author’s refrain: “all is vanity!”
Yet, somewhere along the way, we might realize our life is going somewhere, somehow and by some means by ours or someone else’s reason, rationale.
After all, the “Preacher’s” life is not a mystery novel, where it is considered cheating to peep at the last chapter to find out who did what and why: it is in fact, a legitimate part of the wisdom writings of the written Word of God!
ECCLESIASTES 1:2. “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”
This is the refrain throughout the book. It speaks of the Quality of emptiness, futility, meaninglessness, something of a whole lot of the purest nothingness.
ECCLESIASTES 1:12. “I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.”
In a more traditional understanding of the authorship of Ecclesiastes, we have here an older version of Solomon, who having strayed from God’s path, is now writing after having tried everything which a ‘life without God’ has to offer.
ECCLESIASTES 1:13. “And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.”
Solomon was more than just an interested or casual observer of the restlessness of surviving the Quality of the life he was living and struggling every single day to get through: he quite literally sought to “seek and search out by wisdom.”
After all, he says, this is the “sore travail” that God has given to us “sons of men” since the Fall (cf. Genesis 3:19).
The whole creation has been subjected to ‘vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same IN A LIVING VIBRANT HOPE’ (Romans 8:20).
ECCLESIASTES 1:14. “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
To the “Preacher,” To seek the Quality of Life in a life with God versus to seek quality of life in a life without God is just: “vanity” and a chasing after the wind.
ECCLESIASTES 2:18-19. “Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knows whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? Yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have labored, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun, This also is vanity.”
The Quality of Our Thoughts determines the Quality of Our Life!
The Quality of Our Thoughts determines the Quality of Our Wisdom!
The Quality of Our Thoughts and the Quality of Our Wisdom determines the Direction of our Future Generations – goes a very long way to determining the Quality (vanity)of their thoughts and The Quality (vanity) of their Wisdom.
If the writer of Ecclesiastes is Solomon, then one might wonder if he had some ‘Quality” ideas of what a mess his son Rehoboam would make of the kingdom?
Solomon’s successor knowingly refused the counsel of the aged, and he spoke roughly unto the children of Israel, precipitating the division of the kingdom, (cf. 1 Kings 12:13-17).
ECCLESIASTES 2:20-21. “Therefore, I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun. For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not labored therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.”
The very thought of one’s hard-earned wisdom being squandered by a future generation makes one regret ever having made the effort to gain the wisdom.
“Evil” probably speaks of the unfairness of it all.
ECCLESIASTES 2:22. “For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath labored under the sun?
“Labor” speaks of effort. “Vexation” speaks of stress.
This is a question expecting the “only obvious” answer ‘None!’
Jesus asked a similar question, ‘What?’:
Mark 8:34-36Amplified Bible
34 Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and [a]take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake and the gospel’s will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God]. 36 For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world [with all its pleasures], and forfeit his soul?
‘What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, then loses his soul?’ (Luke 9:25).
The rich man who built more and bigger barns for his worldly abundance is aptly named ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of thee: then whose will these things be which thou hast provided?’ (Luke 12:20).
ECCLESIASTES 2:23. “For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This also is vanity.”
Hard work, stress, sleepless nights. A recipe for burnout! The futility of it all!
Earlier in his life, Solomon wrote, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge’ (Proverbs 1:7).
Then, after all the excursions of this later book, ‘the conclusion of the whole matter’ will be the same. ‘Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man’ (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
If all this worldly labour is meaningless, Paul suggests: ‘Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:2-3).
Above all, quality of life results from your relationship with Christ.
He is life itself and everything good in life flows from Him.
Walking with God means you are ready to receive a miracle at any point in time.
When you grow in the Quality of your personal relationship with Jesus—it will definitely, decisively affect the Quality of growth of your other relationships.
Quality Relationship building in heaven builds Quality relationships on earth.
Ultimately, Jesus is the Quality of life to model and follow.
The Quality of the resurrected life of Christ gives you the Quality of spiritual stamina to experience a “good and wise and sound” quality of abundant life.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Lord, my Rock and Redeemer, thank you that you are my ever-present help in times of trouble. When all I can see around me is trouble, help me to trust in what is unseen. Remind me of the truth of your power, that you surround me, and no one can pluck me from your hand. Remove my fear and replace it with wholehearted faith in you, my God. You are the King of ALL ages, immortal, invisible, the only God. To you be honor and glory forever and ever. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.