As we come to the end of the book of Ecclesiates, I have reflected on it all and realized the whole book culminates in a few simple key advice:
- Be content with the life you have and find joy in the days you have been blessed with
- Life lived without a higher purpose is meaningless because our toil and status on earth does not hold any currency in the afterlife
- Finding purpose cannot be done apart from God
Solomon concludes Ecclesiates with a reflection on what gives meaning to life and what finding higher purpose looks like
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.Ecclesiastes 12: 13 NIV
We make our lives meaningful on earth by using it to secure a place in God’s kingdom for all eternity. Our life takes on meaning when everything we do in public and in secret is geared towards living in complete obedience to God’s will and purpose for our lives
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.Ecclesiastes 12: 14 NIV
These words are certainly worthy of pondering over.
A few days ago my husband and I while on a long journey started to chat about our heart desires and one of mine is definitely to have lots of money; and like most “charismatic” Christians this desire has translated into many a fervent prayer over the past year. I have said things to God like “If I can have $XYZ, I will do this and that” and while these desires and prayers in and of themselves are not bad, sometimes I have used prayer to make requests like one would do a genie in a bottle.
Frankly, this is not just a ‘me’ problem- while many Christians will not openly admit this, many of us treat God like a genie in a bottle. In classic genie stories, no one wants to be friends with the genie (except in the latest Aladdin movie). The genie is only good for 3 wishes. Similarly, sometimes we go to God and rattle off all our requests with no interest in a relationship. We are “God give me this or God give me that” Christians. Most of these requests are usually things related to earthly comforts: more money, higher paying job, bigger car, bigger house, a shiny new husband or wife and the list goes on and on. Again, let me emphasize that none of these requests are wrong- in fact God invites us to make our requests known to him. Where we go amiss is when we desire the gifts more than the giver; when godliness is treated like a ticket/ passageway to having good gifts and advancing ourselves in life; after all whatever we need is just a prayer away. The scripture today warns against such ideology and describe it as false doctrine:
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain.1 Timothy 6:3-6 NIV
Instead, Paul encourages Timothy to practice godliness with contentment. So lets talk about that a little bit. Does that mean we do not desire God’s blessings that give us earthly comforts or seek advancement in life? By no means! How God speaks to me regarding practicing this is not to be so dissatisfied with the blessings He has already given me to the extent that I compromise my integrity to change my status. God assures me that when I outgrow the comforts and luxuries I currently possess, he will bring me to a larger place. He will continue to draw the boundary lines for me in goodly places and bring me into my own. This is his promise to me and the good news is that I do not have to help him to do this! All I have to do is continue to seek Him and He will keep adding to me. That is what it means to me to practice godliness with contentment.
I know most of you send me comments on these posts (thank you) so today I want to engage you as we reflect together on this topic. What does godliness with contentment mean to you? Drop me a line and continue to be intentional in all your endeavors.