A Life Well Lived, A Study of the Book of Ecclesiastes
by Tommy Nelson
I like the way the book began. Here are some of the portions I like:
The Book of Ecclesiastes is as close as the Bible gets to pure philosophy. But it's different from most philosophy in that it is not so much an inquiry of one man's mind as it is God's declaration of the meaning of life.It was alright as the book proceeds into its subsequent chapters, but I do find that Nelson tends to repeat himself a lot. Granted, Ecclesiastes does repeats itself a lot actually.
Solomon begins with the position that life is vain. He does not mean that it is totally meaningless or that it doesn't have any ultimate purpose. By vain, he means that you live for sixty or maybe seventy years and then you're gone.
Life just doesn't have any natural reward of itself. It doesn't automatically head to a climactic point of happiness, meaning, and fruition.
All in all, the lesson is that life in itself is meaningless. You would want to search for meaning through intellectualism, hedonism and materialism, but in the end, you die. You might leave a legacy, but that's about it, and that would depend on how big you can make it to be. But even if you are as big as Steve Jobs, you are still dead.
In the end, what matters most is our relationship with God.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.This was the same lesson I have learnt from Ecclesiastes and other books on Ecclesiastes that I have read. But I did learn something new from Nelson, something I am still considering because it is quite different from the usual.
~ Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (ESV)
Nelson commented on the verses where the Qoheleth or teacher said to enjoy life.
Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil-this is the gift of God.I thought about it and I conclude that as long as we live and enjoy the life that God has given us, where we are, we are doing it right by him. And I like it when Nelson said, "If you love God, do what you want to do. God will control things in His sovereignty. Remember, though, that God will bring judgment. Make sure you play within the rules." (emphasis mine)
~ Ecclesiastes 5:18-19
And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.
~ Ecclesiastes 8:15
Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.
~ Ecclesiastes 9:9
Here are some of the things he said that made me think:
Do some things that will matter for eternity. Serve Christ as long as you can until your number comes up, then die well. Enjoy the things you do know and don't be so concerned and distraught about things you don't.Hmm...now what would I like to do?
The people with the greatest gifts often end up with the most tragic endings because they're not wise. So enjoy your life and work hard. But don't think that your natural abilities will give you automatic success.
Solomon is saying to live boldly and let the chips fall where they may. Live fearlessly in a life you can't always control. If you live scared, you won't have a life.
We don't always have to turn everything into a mystical decision. If you love God, do what you want to do. God will control things in His sovereignty. Remember, though, that God will bring judgment. Make sure you play within the rules. God knows that the only way truly to enjoy life is to live by wisdom. You can't enjoy life outside of the context of holiness.
Solomon reiterates the central point that he has made six other times: We should enjoy life with wisdom. You will get old one day, so enjoy life now but remember God in the midst of your fun. Don't become an old person who talks about what you wish you had done. Instead, be able to talk about what you did. Live a godly life. Get up early and spend an hour in the Word. Read your Bible all the way through every single year. Read three great Christian classics. Cultivate great friends. Travel. Do the things you like to do.
Oh, so much!