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when more leaves you with less

At Mountainview, we recently started preaching our way through the book of Ecclesiastes. At first glance, you might think it would be a downer … everything is meaningless, everything is vanity. OK, it can be a bit of downer — but perhaps only because it strikes a bit close to home.

I recently covered this passage:

9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 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. Ecclesiastes 2:9-11

In other words, “I got it all.” Solomon can say (with a fair degree of certainty) “I became great and surpassed everyone.”

And how did it leave him feeling?

“You mean I tried it all and this is it?”

That had to be a strange, unexpected feeling. To have reached the summit of all your dreams and efforts, only to feel disappointed. It reminds me of the great line from the movie Naked Gun: Love is like eating a bowl of Drano. It might fill you up but leaves you feeling kind of hollow inside.

When we pursue anything apart from God, it has the same effect. We may accumulate more and feel less hopeful, less secure, less happy.

Why is that?

One reason is that our selfish pursuits are very short-sighted. Like our bodies, they are terminal and finite. Unless attached to a higher purpose, they have a stamp of expiration on them.

If you paint only to fill a canvas, the buzz will last only as long as you are painting.

If you pursue intimacy through sexual conquests, the buzz will be even shorter.

If you throw yourself into a career simply to prove yourself or move to a new neighborhood, you will likey accomplish your goal and still not be satisfied.

Don’t settle for more if it’s apart from God. You can do better.