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Bible verses about Ecclesiastes and Christian Living- Comparisons
(From Forerunner Commentary)

1 Kings 19:3-5

The pressures placed on us are no different in principle from what God put Elijah and Jeremiah under. Their examples leave no doubt about their humanity. Their discouragement proves that, for a while, running back into the world seemed attractive to them too. Know this, however: His servants endured and overcame because of God's patience, faithfulness, and power. Given all the depressing things that happen in this world, it is easy to think that we would be better off never having been called. But God reminds us that He is continuously judging those in the world as He oversees the purpose toward which He is guiding His servants.

Do we believe that in God's promises we are given the certainty of salvation if we remain faithful? If we believe, it gives us hope and joy. It is when we doubt that the level of temptation to flee rises. Yet, unlike them, we know the rest of the story. God did not abandon them; they survived and will be in God's Kingdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Five): Comparisons


 

Ecclesiastes 3:16

In places within a culture where godliness must prevail so that people can live a truly good quality of life, Solomon instead found the grave impact of evil.

It is as if he has opened a door back to the harsh realities of this evil world, in which God has consigned us to live to prepare for His Kingdom. Living in this world while maintaining an “over the sun” way of life can be discouraging and difficult because its ever-present evil influences surround us, attempting to lure us into compromising with God's ways.

Overall, however, Ecclesiastes 3 is a strong, positive reminder of God's great gifting of us. In the face of everyday realities, though, we sometimes manage to forget to be thankful for that, allowing dangerous thoughts to arise that could motivate us back toward the world. Thus, Ecclesiastes 3:22 urges us to be content, exhorting us not to allow ourselves to be drawn into vanities, the often-attractive realities that the world holds out to us as invitations to rejoin it. Discouragement and a wandering mind go hand in hand.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Five): Comparisons


 

Ecclesiastes 3:22

Ecclesiastes 3:22 is penetrating and fitting advice because we all have a tendency to let our minds drift. But nothing in the world can even begin to compare with having the assurance of eternal life in glory with God. Nothing can trump God's promises never to leave nor forsake us.

We must learn to live each day by faith, patiently, contentedly accepting each day's occurrences as they come, knowing we have been greatly blessed with something far more valuable than those in the world. Those in the world should be envying us!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Five): Comparisons


 

Ecclesiastes 4:6

Ecclesiastes 4:6, without mentioning a specific worker that Solomon may have observed, presents us with a more balanced approach that we should strive for. Putting it simply, Solomon calls for contentment. One commentator calls this a picture of an “integrated” man; today, we might call him “balanced.” This person is productive in his labors, but he also carves out time for other important activities. He guards against being caught up in the rat race, finding time to balance his life through sharing himself with his family and other activities for their well-being.

Americans spend more time working than any other people in the industrialized world. We are part of an entire nation caught up in “getting” what we refer to as “the good life.” When a person's heart is consumed with constant “doing” or “working,” chasing after whatever he wants out of life, true quietness is ignored, and life gradually becomes a battle to ensure that all of his time is spent simply in “activity.” But God says so simply what our aim should be: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6). This is a choice we are free to make. Solomon is teaching that, to have truly good work habits, a person must also make the choices to exercise a measure of contentment to balance life.

The industrious man reveals that he thinks life's sole purpose is material achievement. Meanwhile, the lazy person's self-serving, pleasure-seeking goal results in slow suicide. The balanced worker deliberately makes choices to divide time and energies to include the well-being of others too. What is the lesson so far? We can take what we want from life, but we must pay for what we take.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Five): Comparisons


 

Ecclesiastes 4:7-8

This person may have neither the drive of the workaholic nor the pleasure-seeking aims of a lazy man, but he shows no evidence of contentment either. As a person uncommitted to sharing his life with another, he is perhaps quite selfish. The description indicates that he wants to keep the produce of his labors for himself. He does not share them with a wife and family, and he has no partners or family to inherit what he leaves behind. The context also gives no indication that he enjoys the use of his profits. He simply works and exists.

Solomon's final comment regarding this worker is intriguing: This situation is not only vanity but a grave misfortune. He seems to conclude that this is the most seriously flawed worker of them all. His description gives the impression of complete self-centeredness. Does anybody benefit from a life as devoted to the self as this worker is?

The New International Version translates what Solomon calls a “grave misfortune” as “a miserable business.” Ecclesiastes teaches us that work can be a God-given pleasure, but this description tells us that it will not be pleasing if we work only for self-centered purposes. It counsels us to ask ourselves, “For whom am I working?” God has worked from the foundation of the earth, but He is not consumed by it (John 5:17). God has given us work at least partly for us to learn not to be self-centered, as well as to enable us to share life with others. God wants us to labor, to create wealth in the right spirit and for the right reasons. His counsel in this context is that a major reason is to create benefits for others.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 gives the impression that Solomon's experiences regarding the man who remained alone in his labors motivated him to think of the importance of friendship and the value of doing things within a partnership:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Five): Comparisons


 

 




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