There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26, ESV).
We are filled with desires. It is amazing how often the words, “I want,” “I need,” or “I would like to have…” come out of our mouths. If it were possible, who among us would not like to have a life free of trials and problems? We would like to omit dark days and depressing times. We would not only like to eliminate poverty from our lives, we would even like to live so that we never had a worry about paying our bills. We may not necessarily want to be rich, we would just like to get what we want when we want it (sounds like being rich, doesn’t it?). Oh, and how nice it would be to have a job where everything about it was enjoyable; a job that was challenging but not too demanding, and at the end of every day gave us that perfect feeling of fulfillment.
We are not asking for much, just a life that runs smoothly with no glitches, negative surprises, or illnesses! Do you think these things are not in the back of our minds? Just consider how our frustration level rises when these ideals are not met. Our desires are so ingrained in us that we are barely conscious of the many ways we make adjustments in order to maintain our supply of comfortable living. These “adjustments” are not necessarily wrong, but they can reveal a dissatisfaction with the Lord and indicate an unrealistic attempt to find lasting enjoyment from what this world has to offer.
“There Is Nothing Better…”
Solomon tried to find that perfectly fulfilling life. Ecclesiastes 2:10 states, “And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.” Solomon did it all, far more than any man who lived before him or after him, and in the end said, “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.” Now if there is nothing better, there are certain conclusions we should make.
First, in this ‘earth-life’ there are no “ultimates.” There is no such thing as, “Wow, I have arrived; I’m at the top of the world and it will always be this way!” No, that’s not true because the best we can have comes when we eat and drink and find enjoyment in our labor. Did you sit down at your table today and enjoy a meal? Wonderful! Now get this, you just enjoyed the best there is in this life. It doesn’t get any better than that. With that knowledge we have the means to attain to contentment. When we know that eating a meal and enjoying good in our labor is the best we can have, we will have learned not to think that what the world has to offer will give us some ultimate joy. We will have learned to be content with the cheaper car, the small simple house, and the clothes from Walmart. Upgrading those things is fine, but will not make a difference in our level of enjoyment.
Second, the only “ultimate” is serving Christ whether in this life or the next. Those who live a sinful, worldly life are not obtaining what Satan is promising them. I have often been intrigued by how instructive some beer commercials are. A few years ago one such commercial depicted a group of men happily rafting down a wild river. As the day came to an end, they were around a campfire popping open beers. Just as they were about to take their first sip, a group of cheerleaders parachuted into the canyon right into their campsite. One of the men looked around at the others and said, “It doesn’t get any better than this!” Besides the fact that such a scenario is pure fantasy, think about what the man just said. A raft trip, beer, and women – it doesn’t get any better than that? You mean that’s it? That’s all this world has to offer? A once-in-a-lifetime convergence of a raft, a beer, and a woman…hmm…what an utter disappointment.