There are times in this life when sorrow rolls over us and peace is far away. There are times when our sin is ever before us. The phrase, “Are we having fun yet?” is a sarcastic remark that permeates pop culture. Usually, when we ask this question, we are feeling the exact opposite. “Are we having fun yet?” may have, in fact, made a good title to some of the chapters in the book of Ecclesiastes. Many of the issues we find in the wisdom literature still exist today.
Solomon recognizes times of trouble, times of sin, times of conflict. He sees much around him that is without endurance and without foundation. He sees that we live in a broken world where bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. We see twisting of justice. We see a lack of fairness. It is not life itself that is unprofitable or vanity. Rather, vanity comes from living to the world’s standards of success and happiness. Successful jobs, praise from others, material possessions, pushing boundaries – none of these things fulfill man’s purpose nor provide enduring contentment.
Seeking the Next Fix
We grow dull and desensitized to those things that give us joy and excitement. Solomon begins looking for pleasure in chapter 2, but that is not enough. He then moves on to building great works – houses, gardens, parks, pools, etc. Verse 7 then transitions to material possessions. He has servants, flocks, silver and gold. It begins with him seeking pleasure, and he moves on time and again to the next fix. By verses 10-12, Solomon indulges in any and every joy he sees – whether wise or foolish.
By chapter 2:17-20, all of this brings him despair and dissatisfaction. He seeks pleasure in this life, regardless of the source. Hebrews 11:24-25, in the context of Moses’ life, speaks of the pleasures of sin, yet the writer calls these pleasures seasonal. They are temporary and transient. Moses recognizes this and chooses God. While we acknowledge the ability of sin to deliver pleasure and satisfaction, but what long-term gains come from it. Romans 6:20 calls sin freedom from righteousness, but verse 21 asks what the point it, though, when the end of that freedom is destruction.
Discovering True Contentment
Can respect, honor, dignity, and love come from living in sin? Paul says no – shame and death come from sin. Are we having fun yet, while we continue to distance ourselves from God? Returning to Ecclesiastes 2, however, Solomon sees hope. In verses 22-24, he sees that one can enjoy life in this broken world while acknowledging God and keeping Him in perspective. Chapter 5:18 reinforces this idea of enjoying our possessions and labors in gratitude to God. Chapter 8:12 reminds us that those who do good will do well before God. He concludes in chapter 12 by admonishing us all to remember our Creator and to live our lives for Him.
Solomon recognizes that striving after fulfillment in this life ultimately results in vanity. No matter how we try to ignore it or run from it, we know eternity awaits us. Many aspects of life lose meaning without God. Without Him, all these pleasures and achievements are mere distractions that will leave voids needing to be filled again and again. Are we having fun yet? Perhaps that is the wrong question altogether. Paul asks of the fruits of sin, but he offers hope in Romans 6:22-23. We are free from sin in Christ’s sacrifice, and he concludes where Solomon concludes: serve God. We can enjoy the things of this life, but we have meaning and contentment when we acknowledge the temporary nature of this world. In serving God and obeying Him, we can enjoy life and find peace in a broken world.
lesson by Tim Smelser