The Gift of Contentment

The Source of Contentment
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
“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.”

How do we find meaning and hope in a world where sin destroys everything and life is filled with paradoxes?  Where do we find joy if wealth becomes an anchor that drags us down?  As we journey with Solomon, we might conclude that his outlook is so pessimistic and darkened that there is no hope or meaning.  But Solomon is not taking us through the forest of futility merely to lead us to despair.  He is masterfully confronting us with the reality of a broken world where we must look beyond the present and find meaning and hope in the only source where it is available.  After confronting us with the folly of riches, he answers the question we have been searching for in our pursuit of wealth.  We long for the enjoyment of life but discover wealth is an illusion.  So, where do we find enjoyment?  The answer lies with God.

In contrast to the vanity of wealth, Solomon gives us a new hope, for in his search, he has discovered something excellent and fitting.  The key to enjoyment is realizing that the joy of life is life itself.  It is not found in the pursuit of popularity (4:13-16), the activity of government (vs. 5:8-9), or the obsession with prosperity (5:10-12).  It is found in the gift God has already given us.  That gift is the ability to enjoy life regardless of our circumstances.  The sad reality is that we spend our lives working and sweating to find enjoyment, only to discover that God has already offered it as a gift to those who ask.  The ultimate reward for our labor is recognizing that God has a plan and is orchestrating everything according to His plan. When we realize this, we discover a joy that is not dependent upon circumstances.  We no longer worry about tomorrow, for we are enjoying the present with gladness of heart.  Without God, wealth becomes an endless obsession, and work becomes oppressive labor.  In a world marred by sin, everything is broken.  But life is not irreparably damaged, for enjoyment can be discovered not in the things this world offers us but in the life God gives us.  When God becomes the object of our obsession, we find joy, and the vanities of life are forgotten.

We must recognize that everything we have is from God and given to us for enjoyment. The ultimate absurdity is that we search relentlessly for what God has made freely available to us. If we cannot enjoy what God has already given us, then we will never find joy in attaining what we do not have.  Significance and meaning in life are not found in the things we have but in the person who invites us into His kingdom. Joy in life is not determined by what we have but by our faith in God’s provision and plan.  God’s plan is perfect, and so what He has done in our life and the work He has set before us to do becomes our joy.  If you find yourself perpetually longing for more and finding no joy in the present, then reorient your focus upon God, trusting that He has already given you the best life possible and the greatest source of joy is found in Him rather than the things of this world.

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