Ecclesiastes 12:1-14; 2 Corinthians 8:10-15; Psalms 50:1-6; Proverbs 15:1-3
OT: “But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12-14 CSB)
After Solomon finished contemplating life under the sun, he ended his essay the same way he began it: “Absolute futility… everything is futile.” The physical things of this earth are temporary and all pass away and come to an end. Merely living life for life’s sake is empty and futile. Trying to get ahead in this life is an empty pursuit because everyone eventually arrives at the same end of their life and dies – no matter how hard they worked at being a good person. Meaning and purpose is found only when you look beyond this short-lived physical life to the eternal spiritual existence to come. After considering everything that life offered under the sun, Solomon’s conclusion to everything was this: “Fear God and keep His commands, because this is sum totality of humanity.” Our life under the sun will, at the end, be judged by God and our eternity will be affected by His assessment of how we stewarded our life.
God created humanity in His image. When God created humanity, He gave them a purpose: to have dominion, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. That purpose only had meaning and value as man and woman remained in relationship with God – as His delegated authority on earth – as the bearer of His image and the carrier of His glory. We are not called to replicate ourselves and fill the earth with ourselves, per se; but to multiply and fill the earth with the authority, likeness and glory of the Lord expressed through us. How do we do that? By humbly fearing the Lord and keeping His commands. The Westminster Catechism states (and Solomon would have concurred) that humanity’s chief end is to 1) glorify God and 2) enjoy Him forever. When all is said and done, that is where the true and lasting value of life is found.
NT: “Now also finish the task, so that just as there was an eager desire, there may also be a completion, according to what you have. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. It is not that there should be relief for others and hardship for you, but it is a question of equality. At the present time your surplus is available for their need, so that their abundance may in turn meet your need, in order that there may be equality. As it is written: The person who had much did not have too much, and the person who had little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:11-15 CSB)
Among the things that God commands is generosity – not a forced redistribution of wealth, but a grace and faith filled willingness to help others in need. When Paul wrote this letter, the Church in Judea was in great need. When Titus visited Corinth, he informed the Corinthian church of that great need, and the Corinthians responded by saying they were willing to contribute money to help. But the Corinthians never acted on that desire. In this letter, Paul reminded them of the willingness they expressed – but he also explained that willingness is not the same as doing. Many times, we judge ourselves by our intentions. We deceive ourselves into thinking that desire is the same as action. Just as faith without works is dead, desire without action is dead.
When it comes to generosity, God does not measure based on amount, but on faith, willingness, and action. As one commentator wrote, “God sees, not the portion, but the proportion. If we could have given more, and did not, God notes it. If we wanted to give more, and could not, God also notes that. (Warren Wiersbe – The Wiersbe Bible Commentary)” God is not after equal amount, but equal sacrifice. God is also after a gracious equality, where those that have an abundance graciously give to those who have lack, so that all in God’s family may have what they need. This is not God sanctioning Socialism or Communism – for those systems are not based on willingness and grace. If we have benefited from Christ’s willing and generous sacrifice to rescue us from our spiritual poverty, then we should be willing to graciously, faithfully and sacrificially give of our abundance (whatever that may look like) to rescue those in need from their physical poverty. When we do that, an amazing thing happens: when we give willingly and generously of the things that we have, instead of things having control over us, we obey the commands of God and our life takes on a whole new level of satisfaction, meaning and purpose.
Prayer: Lord, You created me for a purpose. My life only has meaning and that purpose only comes to fruition as I am reconciled and rightly related to You. For my life to have maximum value and maximum impact, I must life my life in complete worship to You. That is my desire. Work in my by Your grace through the Holy Spirit to see that desire become a reality. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.