It’s party time!
Time to indulge my own selfish desires without concerning myself a bit about others around me or the eternal consequences of my actions. It says it right there in Ecclesiastes. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, states:
So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry… Ecclesiastes 8:15a (NAS)
Simple observation suggests that many people arrive at this conclusion the same way that Solomon did. They gather riches, they attain status, they pursue knowledge and they come to the conclusion that none of these things truly satisfy. Rational beings, really only have two choices at this point. If they see no higher purpose in their daily choices, then they may as well “eat, drink, and be merry”. Why not squeeze every ounce of pleasure out of every minute, if the “here and now” is all that exists? And for those who care what scripture has to say about the matter, they can always pull Ecclesiastes 8:15 out of context to justify their actions. In fact, Paul predicts this kind of rationalization in his second letter to Timothy:
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Tim 4:3-4
By 1996, I had attained a small measure of success in my career and in my personal life. It was enough for me to conclude that fame and fortune would never satisfy. I’m a rational being, so I knew there were only two choices. That’s when God showed up and I saw a higher purpose. I realized that my life could count for something lasting, if I chose to live for Him. Amazingly and paradoxically, since I have chosen to live in obedience to God instead of for my own pleasure, I have experienced immeasurable joy in my life. Sure there are troubles. Solomon acknowledged as much in the second half of the above verse (Eccl. 8:15b …this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life). But I find that life has a much richer meaning when lived in partnership with God.
It’s reassuring to know that Solomon came to the same conclusion at the end of Ecclesiastes:
The conclusion , when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NAS)
Lord God, thank you that you invented pleasure. Thank you that you allow us to experience joy when we live a life of obedience to you. It is my sincere desire to stand by you in my toils throughout the days of my life.