- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God say about enjoying this life?
Jn 10:9-10, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” But, who is the thief and what is this abundant life Jesus offers? Jn 15:10-11, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” Apparently, in this world we can have a joyful life and it can be an abundant one; but keeping His Commandments is part of the process of attaining it, Jn 17:13, “And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”
Does this joy Jesus promises come from knowledge? Eccl 1:17-18, “And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” Solomon, who had the resources and time to try everything under the sun, tells us that devoting our lives to acquiring knowledge is vanity. It might lift our self-image, but it will not bring us God’s joy.
So, Solomon turned to pleasure to see if it brought the joy God promises, Eccl 2:1, “I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.” Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, he experienced every kind of physical pleasure and finally understood pleasure cannot bring God’s joy.
Solomon next tried accumulating more wealth than any before him and came to the same conclusion about wealth, Eccl 2:9-10, “So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” Solomon found that God’s joy is not found in accumulating wealth.
Today, many of us are following one of the selfish paths Solomon tried and God warned us about, 2 Tim 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” And, here we see that the sound doctrine of His Word is the key to finding God’s joy and following fables created by man only leads us away from Him and the abundant life He offers. God’s way has never changed, but man’s way is always leading us to the next fad and/or fable, brought to us by that day’s experts.
Jn 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This small verse gives us the secret to finding the path to God. We must become more like Jesus. He came as an example, a sacrificial lamb. As we become more like Him, our selfish nature diminishes and our love for others increases. It is this love for others that frees us from the vanity that dominates this world. In case you haven’t figured out who the thief is, he is the one who is trying to steal us away from God and the joyful life God has planned for us, now and for all eternity. God has called us to reflect and study our lives, so that we might find the path leading to Him, instead of the path leading to evil, Prov 4:26-27, “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”
Ultimately, Solomon wants us to know, Eccl 9:11, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Time, chance and death come to each of us. We have only this life to find the path to God, so we must use our time wisely. God is calling us through the words of Paul, Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” This sums up God’s calling to lead joyful, peaceful lives on the path He has given us to the eternal future He has promised us.
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