What I’m Learning in Ecclesiastes – Part Two

In the last post I shared one of the lessons I’m learning from Ecclesiastes - time is short. That our time on earth is short is something everyone should be able to grasp, but I don't think many of us do. We humans do everything in our power - which is as vain as it gets -to extend our time on earth as if we were the ones in control of every second. Christians do this, too. As a follow up to the fact that the number of days we have is limited, the next thing I’ve learned in Ecclesiastes is this:

2) Not everything is worth doing.

Let me be clear and honest: I waste a lot of time. I know this. I also waste a lot less time than I used to because I've begun to see that I've got a lot less time to do important things than I'd ever thought. An easy illustration to begin with: if I have ten minutes before going to work and I have a choice between hugging and kissing my daughter in some brief daddy-daughter time or watching clips from last night’s The Daily Show, the choice is obvious. I’m spending it with my child. That is not a waste of time. It is not meaningless.We all know that we make choices about the way we spend our precious time. Some choose to spend that time in profoundly meaningful ways. Others choose the opposite. It gets tricky when we have to make decisions between seemingly important things like chores, work, and family time.
What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? Ecclesiastes 1:3

What do we gain with our work and our play? I’m not going to shy away from saying this: most of what we do is meaningless. By meaningless I mean “of no lasting value”. Does weedeating have eternal value? If it does, I haven’t grasped it yet. It keeps my home value up and makes my wife happy, but eternally valuable? I just don’t see it. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop weedeating just like you aren't going to stop doing things that are equally meaningless from an eternal perspective. We will always engage in activities like this. I think Ecclesiastes shows us that we shouldn't kid ourselves.

If we’re honest, some of the stuff we do isn’t only meaningless, it’s worthless. Video games. Surfing the internet. Soccer. And it’s probably already been done before. “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has been already in the ages before us.” Ecclesiastes 1:9-10

Most of our entertainment has been done before - it’s just more sanitized. Most of our idle time has been done before - it’s just more technologically advanced. Most of our “me” time is a selfish waste of time - I’m preaching to myself here!

Before you call me Debbie Downer, I want you to know that these are not crippling thoughts to me. They are life-giving because Ecclesiastes helps give me the freedom to stop doing that which is meaningless and worthless. The book gives me permission to sink myself into that which is not meaningless and not worthless. It helps me seek the Treasure, Jesus Christ, and share Christ with other people.

Not everything is worth doing. Making much of Jesus is.