Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 — The emptiness of hedonism

“If it feels good, do it.”

That was the cry of the ’60s, a time when drugs and the sexual revolution took off.

What was the result?  Broken marriages, broken homes, broken lives.  The rise of divorces, the rise of AIDS and other STDs, the fall of morality.

And yet, the pursuit of pleasure is not new.  Even back in the time of Solomon, people were doing this, and so Solomon, as an “experiment” tried it as well.  He said,

I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” (1)

And so Solomon accumulated things in order to please himself, building up his estate, amassing slaves, herds and flocks, gold and silver, as well as his own personal harem.  As I mentioned before, he not only had 700 wives, but 300 concubines as well.  And while they didn’t have drugs in those days, Solomon did indulge himself with lots of wine as well.

What was the end result?  What was Solomon’s conclusion?

That also proved to be meaningless.  “Laughter,” I said, “is foolish.  And what does pleasure accomplish?”…When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (1-2, 11)

Am I saying then that pleasure is bad?  No.  Pleasure is a good thing.  God wants us to enjoy life.  But when we make pleasing ourselves our chief goal in life, it always leaves us empty.  Why?  Because what we have is never enough.  As Paul wrote,

They have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.  (Ephesians 4:19)

The problem with lust, whether it’s for sex, things, or whatever, is that it is never satisfied.  It always seeks more.  And left unchecked, we’ll end up doing unspeakable things to satisfy it.  You see this in pornography and drugs most specifically, but it’s true with every other aspect of life.

There’s only one pursuit that truly satisfies.  The pursuit of God.  And when we pursue after him, we find not a temporary pleasure that comes but soon is gone.  But we find a joy that lasts forever.

People who don’t know God think of him as a killjoy.  As someone who wants to take joy from us.  But if you look at the life of Jesus, he was anything but a killjoy.  If anything, his opponents argued that he had too much fun.  (Matthew 11:19)

The truth is that Jesus wants us to have life.  And not to just have life, but a full life.  It is Satan that wants to take away that joy by offering something that feels good in the short run, but leaves us empty and in despair in the end.  And that’s what Solomon learned.

Jesus said this,

The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,and have it to the full. (John 10:10)


About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください:
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