Thursday, September 25, 2014

“But the vain man did not hear him…….. Vain men never hear anything but praise.”

“Nothing is so at odds with prayer as vanity.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German Lutheran pastor, Martyr and anti-Nazi dissident)

Scripture Text: (ECCL 1:2-11 )
Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
What profit has man from all the labor
which he toils at under the sun?
One generation passes and another comes,
but the world forever stays.
The sun rises and the sun goes down;
then it presses on to the place where it rises.
Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north,
the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds.
All rivers go to the sea,
yet never does the sea become full.
To the place where they go,
the rivers keep on going.
All speech is labored;
there is nothing one can say.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing
nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.

What has been, that will be;
what has been done, that will be done.
Nothing is new under the sun.
Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!”
has already existed in the ages that preceded us.
There is no remembrance of the men of old;
nor of those to come will there be any remembrance
among those who come after them.

Most scholars today believe that Ecclesiastes was written some time in the two to three centuries before Christ. The author wrote under the name “Qoheleth,” which means “preacher” in Hebrew, but it’s not certain who he was. One thing is certain, however: he didn’t mince words when he considered the state of human life!

Qoheleth was brutally honest when he described the cycle of life. He didn’t sugarcoat the sometimes meaningless labors and injustices that we face. He didn’t smile and pretend that everything was fine. He confronted life’s inconsistencies, acknowledged them, but continued to believe in God and to trust him to make sense out of things. Now that’s a heroic example of faith!

The fact is we are kidding ourselves about how important we are in the larger scheme of things. Our purposes are just too trivial and the calendars we keep can be downright petty.

It seems to me that if we number our days in terms of God’s plan, we will make wiser choices in our labors. And that matters. We won’t be wasting so much time. So instead of checking our calendars in the morning and asking God to prosper “our” labors as if they really are ours, we should ask for God’s kindness that we may shout for joy and gladness for the work we have before us because the “work” belongs to Him and should be for Him and not us alone.

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