Full Contentment

Having a life of meaning available to us is one thing. Living a life of meaning is something else. One can lead to the other, but the connection is not automatic. In this final installment in our series, Finding Meaning, we talk about the secret of not just having, but living a life filled with meaning and purpose. Keep reading to find out as we wrap up this thought-provoking journey.

Full Contentment

One of the things I have actively encouraged you guys to be doing is spending daily time in the Scriptures.  This is something I’ll keep encouraging and keep encouraging and keep encouraging because of how utterly transformational this practice is to the life of faith.  You simply cannot be a consistent, faithful follower of Jesus without regularly engaging with the Word of God.  It’s just not how it was designed to work.  And so you know that I’m not just saying you should be doing this without actually doing it myself, this past week I was working my way through Genesis 2-3 and I read something there that when I sat down to start working on this message came rushing to the front of my brain.  It was one of those cool times when God makes a connection between two different ideas in the Scriptures written by different authors living in different cultures separated by centuries of time that you just wouldn’t have made without Him.  The original thought struck me enough that you may have seen it on my blog this past week if you follow me there.  All of those entries, by the way, come out of my own quiet time.  If you ever want to know what I’m reading at the moment, it’s all right there for you.  I just want you to know that I’m in this with you. 

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The Problem with Pleasure

This week we begin looking together at some of the places in which we seek meaning for our lives. One of the biggest areas is in pleasure of one kind or another. The allure of pleasure–you pick your pleasure–is obvious. It feels good. Who wouldn’t want that? But, the question we have to face down is this: Does it deliver on its promise? Keep reading as our series, Finding Meaning, continues.

The Problem with Pleasure

There are some things people enjoy that require…training to be able to actually enjoy.  Fine art is one of those.  I haven’t quite developed enough of a taste for it to be able to enjoy it as thoroughly as others do who have.  There are folks who can go to an art museum and have their spirits fed simply by what they see there.  I can’t do that.  I have, however, had the opportunity to develop a taste for classical music.  While I don’t do it all that often—I mostly listen to news, commentary, and preaching—I genuinely enjoy listening to classical music and from multiple different genres (did you know there were multiple genres of classical music?).  There are some pieces that feed my spirit in a way few other things in this world do. 

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Morning Musings: Proverbs 24:13-14

“My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.  Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

When was the last time you enjoyed something good simply because it was good?  So often, if we allow ourselves to experience something good, it is as a stopping point on the way to something else.  The good thing is not the end, but rather part of the means.  This can be especially true for followers of Jesus.  To seek out the experience of something good for no other reason than that it is good feels too self-indulgent.  We are not worth such efforts.  It is selfish.  We don’t deserve such things. Read the rest…

Morning Musings: Ecclesiastes 2:15, 20-21

“Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. . . .So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.”

– ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭2:15, 20-21‬‬

After seeking to pursue pleasure for its own sake and coming up empty, Solomon turned his attention to wisdom and work.  Once again, he came up empty.  Why?  We can perhaps understand work pursued as an end coming up dry.  Solomon’s point is valid: We work hard, create an inheritance, pass it along to someone else, and they may or may not squander it.  What’s the point?  

But wisdom?  Surely that should be its own reward.  And yet the wise and the fool come to the same end: death.  Again: What’s the point?

What we must come to realize–through Solomon’s efforts rather than our own experience hopefully–is that anything, even good things, when pursued for its own sake will not leave us satisfied with our efforts.  Anything in this life when pursued as an end in itself, will prove empty.  This life, because of sin, is fraught with futility.  Every part is infected with it.  If we take this world on its own terms and for its own sake, we will find only disappointment and frustration.  What we need is the proper lens through which to see it and pursue it.  

When we pursue things for the glory of God we can take them in as they were designed.  And when we pursue them in accordance with their design, we will find the delight and satisfaction we are seeking.  Through any other path we will only discover the futility and vanity which Solomon decried.

Morning Musings: Ecclesiastes 2:1, 11

“I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’  But behold, this also was vanity. . . .Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

Pleasures pursued for their own sake will never bring us lasting joy or life.  Human desires run in a million different directions.  We can spend our entire lives seeking to see our desires met.  If we make this our god, though, we will never cease our running.  One desire will give way to another and to another and to another.  There will always be something new and better to want.  We will wind up running until our legs give out and then we will crawl until our strength is gone.  In the end, we will be left with only more unfulfilled desires.   Read the rest…