Damariscotta Baptist Church
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

06/11/17 Sermon - Pursuit of Happiness

“Pursuit of Happiness”

Ecclesiastes 6:1-12


Have you begun to notice that Solomon has a hang up on his wealth? He just can’t seem to get over the fact that when he looked around, those that had worked hard, done well, seemed to have things going in the right direction, still had to contend with misery. Solomon equated it to being evil.


My first response to Solomon is “Give me a break!” You being wealthy, having everything you could ever want, and not being able to accept that and be happy is far from “evil.” Take one look at Somalia today and try to compare Solomon’s view of evil with today’s view of evil.


But then we need to remember as we read through this book, that Solomon had an “under the sun” point of view, not a view as someone who walked in a correct relationship with God.

Solomon recognized that God was in control, and that view, at times, made him even more furious, because, to him, if God was in control, why wasn’t God doing what Solomon thought was the “right” thing?


Isn’t that a similar view of many people in our world today? People seem to have enough information about who God is, to recognize that He has the potential of being in control of everything, but as soon as they allow themselves to believe it, they are disillusioned, much like Solomon, into believing that being in control means, “making everything problem free once you believe in God.” This is where both the world and Solomon are looking at God incorrectly. When one is in a correct relationship with God, then the things of this world grow strangely dim, and that includes, our riches, our labor and our questions.


In today’s chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon addressed three areas, our riches, our labor and our questions.

I contend that for Solomon and for any of us who pursue happiness, by focusing on riches, work and questions, it will not be found,


apart from a correct relationship with God.


Let’s begin with how Solomon looked at riches. Solomon, had it in his head that, for the person who had wealth, possessions and honor God had not allowed them to enjoy these things. Solomon deemed this as evil having taken over their lives. Solomon clearly recognized that it is God who allows these gifts, and it is God who also allows or forbids the person to enjoy them. For the Christ-follower, one who is in a correct relationship with God, having wealth, possessions and honor is not a problem.


Neither is not having them.


Because for the Christ-follower, the relationship with Christ is more important, than the earthly items. The focus is not on things, but on Jesus.


Solomon goes on to describe the life of a Jewish man who demonstrated that he was truly blessed by having 100 children,

definitely attainable by a man with 700 wives and 300 concubines.

Yet, in comparison, Solomon believed that a stillborn child would be better off than this man, because the stillborn child would not have had to endure the frustrations, disappointments or enigmas of life.

True.

But this child also would have missed out on the love, accomplishments and enjoyments of life, as well. It seems that Solomon was one who saw the glass as half empty and for him death brought nothing, but an end, with no fulfillment. Yet for the Christ-follower, to die is gain, this world is but a temporary place.

Death means one is present with Christ and what could be meaningless about that?


Next Solomon looked at those who labor to achieve satisfaction. Only to discover that work does not fulfill because it is aimed at short-term fulfillment. God has a design for work, which has been established since the beginning of time. Yet our labor was never intended to be our central focus or to replace where our real purpose for life should derive. For the Christ-follower, our work is done to the glory of God, Colossians 3:17


“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”


Psychology today has determined that those who work in a position that they deem their “calling” have a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, and where one is more apt to work harder, even to the point of receiving less pay.


At the end of this chapter, it seems that for Solomon the futility of feeling that nothing can make things better has set in. Solomon contrasted the very limitations of humanity with the omnipotence of God and as a result, the one who succeeds is God. For Solomon, the length of one’s life is like a shadow which amounts to one’s life being in vain. Leading Solomon to ask the rhetorical question, “Who knows what is good for us?”


Although we often think we do,

it is again the Christ-follower, who answers this question with,

“God knows” and better yet, “God cares.”


Things have become more sophisticated since the time of Solomon. Wisdom today far surpasses the wisdom of Solomon.


Psychologists have spent a great deal of time and energy pursuing the idea of the pursuit of happiness and whether obtaining wealth coincides with obtaining happiness. And yet, the results are quite the same. Solomon was not far off in thinking that money and possessions do not increase life satisfaction. In fact, a study of Forbes Top 100 wealthiest people showed they failed to experience any more happiness than the average American. The evidence shows that money does have an effect on happiness, but only for those who are in poverty. As soon as one’s basic needs are met, the idea that money offers happiness is a myth.


Solomon went so far as to state that God was a killjoy and it was because of Him that humans were not even allowed to enjoy their wealth. I suspect that Solomon was frustrated because in reality God never designed wealth to meet those needs in the first place. Benjamin Franklin stated it best when he wrote,

“Money has never made man happy, nor will it; there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has, the more one wants.”


The world today pressures us from all sides to seek wealth, possess more,  and by doing so we will be reaching the “American Dream,” we will be happier and life will be fulfilling. Solomon had it all, and what does he say as he nears the end of his life and looks back after following this adage?


“Meaningless.”


If we are following Christ, and take the time to think about it, we would fully agree. Paul gave the best advice to Timothy in a letter, in which he wrote,


Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”


Solomon felt those griefs and wrote them down to guide others. Had he only listened to his father David who reminds us what happiness is in


Psalm 37: 1-14


Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found.

But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright.


Not much has changed. There truly is nothing new under the sun.  May we remember that apart from a correct relationship with God:


> riches will not fulfill us

> labor will not satisfy us and

> our simple questions will have no answers


Yet with Christ, anything is possible.


Let’s pray.