Ecclesiastes 3 (New Living Translation)
A Time for Everything
1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time for war and a time for peace.
HERE Judy Collins sings. I love her serene and powerful voice. “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by Pete Seeger.
9 What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw
ETERNITY IN OUR HEARTS
Christians are to be people who love that which endures. The author of Ecclesiastes writes that God has put eternity within the human heart. This gift makes us yearn for life to be meaningful, so we are never content to give ourselves to that which will fade away. The eternal One has made us for the things that endure. Therefore, Christians will always be different. We can never simply run with the pack, giving ourselves to the things that pass away.
This longing for what is timeless and valuable causes people to reach for God because God is the eternal One. The Holy Spirit’s work is to produce eternal fruit in the character and lives of his people.
It is from the anointing of the Spirit that we find the power to live for the things that endure. “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8). This statement by Paul is the law of life.
Can you detect the difference between time and eternity? Have you found the power to give yourself to that which will endure? Even the most barren person who does so will be fruitful, and the most desolate person will know eternal joy.
14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him.
We all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts, a longing for infinite love and beauty. Only God can fill that emptiness, but we tend to want to take the hunger pains away by filling the hole with substitutes–possessions and wealth, pleasure, power and prestige. We may feel satisfied for a while, but ultimately the restlessness and longing return.
You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
–from Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
15 What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.
The Injustices of Life
16 I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt! 17I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.”
18 I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals. 19 For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless! 20 Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust. 21 For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth?
Yes, but Teacher, remember you told us that God has set eternity in our hearts! In that, we have a glimpse of life beyond this world!
22 So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is why we are here! No one will bring us back from death to enjoy life after we die.
Here are some ideas to help us know how we can fruitfully work in a wicked world:
Luke 12:15 (Contemporary English Version)
Then he said to the crowd, “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.”
Matthew 6:33 (New International Version)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [food, drink, clothing] will be given to you as well.
Philippians 4:11-13 (English Standard Version)
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (Good News Translation)
We say this because we hear that there are some people among you who live lazy lives and who do nothing except meddle in other people’s business. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we command these people and warn them to lead orderly lives and work to earn their own living.
But you, friends, must not become tired of doing good.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.