27 September 2018

Mark 1
Ecclesiastes 5

One month ago, the Sunday morning sermon was on Ecclesiastes 5, and it was entitled ‘Listen!’ So its probably worth hearing once again what the teacher says in this chapter!

Ecclesiastes 1-4 shows us that if we pursue God, the things of life that sometimes feel meaningless will become meaningful – our toil, our wealth and our relationships. These are all gifts from God, and the teacher warns us to be careful lest we end up pursuing the gift and not the giver. We cannot love them both, and as we reflect on this, he points to three aspects of our worship that show how much we love God:

  1. Do we listen carefully to God? We gather in worship primarily to listen, more than to speak and praise, and the Word of God must take priority over the words of the worshipper. How often we come lightly into God’s presence, either getting distracted or wanting to do all the talking. We forget that God is the infinite creator, and we are His finite creation. God is God and we are not, ‘so let your words be few’ (verse 2). God is more pleased with an attentive heart than with great performance and outward ceremony. Do we show our love for God by listening carefully to Him?
  2. Do we speak truthfully to God? We should be thoughtful and careful before we speak. God expects us to do what we say, and not to make excuses or to delay. The fool is marked by his many words that are empty and worthless, bargaining with God but never following through. This is contempt, not love. ‘God takes no pleasure in fools’ (verse 4), and for Him, yes is yes and no is no. God listens to us – do we show our love by being careful what we say and promise to Him?
  3. Do we live differently for God? The world stops at nothing for gain, it loves money but never has enough, and the more it has, the more worry it seems to bring, and the less sleep. At first this seems counter-intuitive because it’s often those with too little who worry about how they’ll make ends meet, but the teacher is advocating contentment on the basis that we can take nothing with us when we die. We may face financial hardship, but knowing God is eternal gain. Pursuing material things like they are everything is meaningless, because they have no eternal significance – ‘we can’t take our riches with us’ (verse 15). Do we love God enough to really believe this and live differently, pursuing the Giver, not the gift, and putting others ahead of self?

Father God, as we think about these things, help us to see our need for Jesus. How can we speak truth without the one is the Truth? How can we overcome our greedy and selfish heart without submitting to the one who can give us a new heart? Lord Jesus, fill us with Your Spirit so that our lives may become living proof that we are God’s children who listen carefully to Him, who speak truthfully to Him, and who live differently for Him. Amen.