Many youth and even adults are too busy and find it difficult to create time to think about who they are, their strengths and weaknesses, their drives and personalities, their habits and values. Similarly, they are less disposed to spend much time on self-reflection. Most often honest feedback is resisted when faced with it because it lacks cajoling. As a result, many people have a low level of self-awareness. Have you ever asked yourself who am I? What am I created for? Why do I exist after all? What am I aiming after? Answering these and many other questions would probably lead us closer to the mind of the preacher about finding purpose and fulfilment in God and the futility of seeking after riches.
For this topic, we shall look at Eccl 4-6
From these chapters, we shall consider the following discussion as it may concern us as youth seeking for a life of purpose and fulfillment.
- The meaning of riches.
- Why is one person rich and another poor?
- Why is there injustice and inequality in the world?
- What plan does God have for you?
The meaning of riches
God created man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it (Gen 2:15). All human were created to work as a service to God. Although after the fall, man had to toil and labour to feed. Jesus as our perfect example worked as a carpenter (Mk.6:3). It is therefore expected that honest labour results in riches. As Solomon was disappointed for lack of justice and his inability to do anything about it in his days (Eccl.4:1), he went to the market place to watch men as they labour. His findings will reveal to us our next question.
Why is one person rich and another poor?
Vs. 4. Reveals to us an industrious man
As Solomon did, you will be recognized when you are hardworking, skillful and competent in all you do. For some young people, that is their way of life. The book of proverbs appreciates this attitude and however, with what kind of heart are you doing this? If your only reason for working hard, skillful, competent at your job was to compete with others and make more money than your neighbour (v.4), then you are a disappointment to God and to man. You as believer must have the purpose to produce beautiful or useful products, or to help people. You need to realize who you are in Christ, salts and light therefore; ‘selfishness factor’ in human labour is not of God. The tendency to covet others, to want to have what others have and even more which you do not have results in unhealthy competition, envy and rivalry. This does not rule out the need for genuine and healthy competition between teams, groups and schools, but it must be done devoid of dishonesty and rioting.
Secondly, v. 5 reveals to us an idle man
5 The fool folds his hands and ruins himself (NIV).
The next set of person Solomon decided to watch was the lazy man. Lazy persons are characterized by siting all day, folded hands and doing nothing. (See Prov 18:9; 19:15; 24:30-34.)This group of people ruin themselves with poverty. Reflect on your life, as a young man/lady, do you sleep all days; do you weed your farm? How serious are you with your studies? Do you use your extra hour wisely? A life of purpose is not an idle life. It is an organized life, it is a focused life, it is a life that imbibes excellence. Sleep may be enjoyable, but lack of money to buy the necessities of life could be very painful (Prov 6:10-11, TLB, 2 Thess 3:10).
V.6 Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind (NIV) Verse 6 showed the next person observed by Solomon. This he called the Integrated man.
This man lived a balanced life, a life of contentment, and quietness. He was productive and also carefully seeks for time of quietness. He did not run in the rat race, but neither did he try to run away from the normal responsibilities of life (Eccl 6:3-6). Do you have time for leisure? You need to balance your crave for profit with commensurate crave for peace of mind. Money is a good servant but a bad master. Paul’s instruction in 1Tim.6:6 is relevant here.
(vs. 7-8) Reveals another man called the independent or lonely man. This man though had no relatives or partners in his business, he works very hard, he wanted all the profit to himself he therefore engaged himself in selfless work so much that he had no time for himself for enjoyment or relaxation. All his accumulated profits will go to who at his death? He was labouring in vain for no one to pass it to. He was living a purposeless life. It was very unfortunate that the man failed to ask himself “For whom am I working so hard? Why am I robbing myself of the enjoyments of life just to amass more and more money” (Warren W. Wiersbe). It was observed that the industrious man was at least providing employment for people, and the idle man was enjoying some leisure, but the independent man was helping neither the economy nor himself. King Solomon saw this as vanity.
What plan does God have for you?
God’s plan for you, is that you should not trust in uncertain riches but in the Lord. Do not live for riches, but use them according to God’s will-use it to make beautiful and useful products, to further the kingdom of God and to help people (Gal 6:10).
Have you discover your purpose in life? Are you craving for money at the expense of your God, health or peace of mind? Take a clue from these three people as someone saw them:
The industrious man thinks that money will bring him peace, but he has no time to enjoy it. The idle man thinks that doing nothing will bring him peace, but his lifestyle only destroys him. The integrated man enjoys both his labor and the fruit of his labor and balances toil with rest. Which of this do you desire and you are working at? Only focus on God can help you find fulfillment and contentment in what God makes available for you.
ADENIKE OLADEJI REV. DR (MRS).