“A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24)
You have likely heard the phrase “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” It is sometimes rather tempting to look at things in someone else’s life and wish we have what they have.
If you know anything at all about the book of Ecclesiastes, it is sometimes summed up with one word “meaningless." The author of Ecclesiastes looks at everything on earth compared to what awaits us in heaven and he rightly gathers that things here are meaningless, compared to heaven.
In our verse for this week, the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that if we don’t want to think our life on earth is a total waste, there is something we can do: “eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil." In other words, instead of looking for greener grass on the other side of the fence, we should be content with our situation in life and make the best of it.
There are several things we need to do if we want to make the best of our current situation: 1) Understand what we have is from the hand of God, 2) Seek to understand what we can do to give glory to God with what he has given us and 3) Seek to find ways to share God with others.
The next phrase after our verse in Ecclesiastes chapter 2 is “This too, I see, is from the hand of God.” Rather than seeing things in life as “fate” or “luck," a Christian understands that God is in control of everything and guides and directs things in our lives for our good in the way he knows is best. We are reminded of that in a Bible verse which is a favorite of many Christians – Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
I have several inspirational Christian sayings posted on and around my office desk. One of my favorites reads: “The most important sermon preached each week is not the one that is preached in church, but the one which is preached in the lives of those who hear it.” It is not always easy to do, but one thing we need to constantly be striving to do as Christians is to let others see Jesus in us. If you think about it, that is a tall order – to have other people see Jesus in us in the way we speak and act. We are likely painfully aware that there are many times when people see anything but Jesus in our words and actions. But if understand that God has put us where we are for a purpose, it will help us to be content where we are and with what we have.
Right along with letting others see Jesus in us is a Christians is our duty to share Jesus with others. I once heard it said that another obligation we have as Christians is to make sure we get to heaven and bring along as many people as possible. Look around your family, your friends, your coworkers and others whom you know. How many of them know Jesus and you are confident will be with you in heaven? God has put you where he has in life and he has put the people around you so that you can share Jesus with them.
There is a phrase in some Christian circles which sums up all of these thoughts in a picturesque way: “Bloom where you are planted.” That is another way of saying what we talked about earlier with being content where we are and looking to see what purpose God has for us.
Here are some hymn verses (CW #484) which serve as a good prayer, asking God to help us do the things we’ve discussed in our devotion:
Brothers, sisters, let us gladly Give to God our all, our best—
Service hearty, thorough, honest, With a living love impressed.
All our duty, all our striving, All our time to him belong;
Praise him, then, with true devotion; Come before him with a song.
By his mercy, by his bounty, By the gift of Christ, his Son,
What great goodness he has shown us, What high marvels he has done!
Let us to him promptly, freely, Yield our bodies and our souls,
Thankful that his love protects us, That his wisdom all controls.
Gracious Lord, accept our service For the sake of Christ, your Son;
Lo, our hope abides now only In the righteousness he won.
Bless and save us; help and guide us; Watch to comfort and restore
Till in heav’n we rest rejoicing, Praising you forevermore.
Posted by Joel Gaertner
Rev. Joel Gaertner is The Lutheran Home Association Vice President of Ministry and National Director of Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM). He provides spiritual guidance to our entire organization and develops and guides JCM programs in congregations. Pastor Gaertner and his wife, LuAnn, live in Cudahy, Wis., and have two adult children. Outside work, he enjoys golf, walking and watching just about any sporting event, especially the Green Bay Packers.