Ecclesiastes 2:24

Verse of the Day Devotion: Ecclesiastes 2:24  

“There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.” – Ecclesiastes 2:24

In this verse, we see the wisdom of the preacher as found in Ecclesiastes.  The preacher is no doubt Solomon, the son of King David.  He starts off in this chapter by describing some of the thing’s men do in order to bring meaning and joy to their lives, and he uses himself and his actions as the examples.  He describes how he tried laughter, wine, increased labor.  Also in planting gardens and making parks and ponds and a forest of trees.  He bought many slaves and through procreation increased the number as well.  He also collected an incredible amount of things as well as many concubines for his own pleasure.  He eventually became great and increased more than any other in Jerusalem.  Anything his eyes wanted he acquired (Ecclesiastes 2:2-10).  Then, after this was done, “Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:11. 

The above gave Solomon the conclusion that meaning regarding our lives is not found in wisdom, hard work or things: which was a prevalent and traditional belief of the teachers in Israel of that time period.  These things may give pleasure to the person pursuing these things, but only temporarily.  I remember speaking with a young lady who had just bought a new home in an expensive community, as well as a high-end automobile.  After some time, she bought a bigger home because she found a friend had purchased a bigger home in the same community.  She also purchased a fancier car.  The sad thing about this is that she did not have the money or income to purchase them, she just went further into debt, so much so that she had little money left over at the end of each month.  What this young lady had was very good.  But because her focus was on her status, she was never satisfied.  Solomon saw this and determined it was simply vanity.

Going back to our focus verse, Solomon came to the following conclusion.  “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.” Ecclesiastes 2:24.  He determined that this drive to do all that is possible to bring pleasure to his life was a truly fruitless venture, for the pleasure was temporary.  It is not self-indulgent pursuit of pleasure that brings satisfaction, but a contentment in the food and drink we consume and accepting the work we do now as being good, because these things are given to us by God.  He then tells us later a more detailed thought regarding contentment.  “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward.  Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.  For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.” Ecclesiastes 5:18-20. 

If Solomon, who is considered the wisest and richest man who ever lived, one who had the means to acquire anything he wanted and the ability to do anything he desired, found a good life to be in the contentment in all that God has given him, then we should apply this wisdom to our own lives as well.  I have found this to be the source of much peace, for all my needs are met.  I pray as you apply this, you will find the same thing for yourself.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Ephesians 4:28

Verse of the Day Devotion: Ephesians 4:28 

“He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” – Ephesians 4:28       

Paul now speaks in our focus verse regarding stealing.  Back in this time period within the pagan community, theft was a common practice, mostly because there were many who found it difficult to provide for themselves and their families.  This practice of pilfering was almost common practice back then.  No property was safe which was not guarded or locked up so that it was inaccessible.  Sounds like today in some ways. 

Now, we are not to believe that thievery was a common practice within the first century church.  However, since many converts were from the pagan communities, it is not surprising that Paul would spend time in preaching against the practice.  The first thing he tells them is that they must stop if they are still stealing.   He states this as a point of caution.  If someone has long been in the habit of practicing any sin, they are prone to falling back into it again.  As an example, think about the problem of excessive drinking.  Someone who was a practicing alcoholic in the past but now drinks no longer, has to be careful that he does not fall into this practice again.  The same can be said for people addicted to drugs, and as Paul talks about, stealing from others.

He then says that instead of stealing from others, seek the means of living in an honest manner.  In essence, find a way of getting what you need aside from by dishonest means.  They were to work hard so that you could themselves acquire legally what they need.  They need to give up taking from others that which they can get for themselves.  As he wrote to the church in Philippi, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. We can always trust Him to meet our true needs.

And he ends this by stating when they go out and work, they are to share with those who are in need.  They are not just to think of themselves, but also think of others who need help in making ends meet.  I like the way the theologian Albert Barnes puts it.  Paraphrasing, he says “a considerable number of people cannot labor to support themselves due to being either too old or young, or they are crippled, sick or laid up in bed.  If those who are working do not share with them what they have, they very well could perish.  Based on this, we should desire, in our labors, to provide for their needs.” 

We, as Christians need to follow this verse.  We must not steal, in any form.  This means in regard to things, ideas, dignity, or any other way.  We should work to get what we need and want, not take with no remuneration.  And when we do work, let is take the opportunity to help those who are truly unable to work to address their needs.  This will help by not allowing them to fall into temptation to steal in order to take care of themselves and their family.  Meeting the needs of the needy is often more important than purchasing a new unnecessary item.  We would like help if we were in need. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.