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Ecclesiastes 6:8-20 | Enjoy Your Portion (Part 2)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020 • • General
Whether rich or poor, God gives us the same portion to enjoy—our labor in life in relationship with Him. The good enjoyment of our labor, not just the profit, is our portion from God. This is something all of us can equally enjoy, if received in faith as a portion from our all-wise, good and holy God.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Remember when Jesus teaches in His "Sermon the Mount" to observe nature and animals and see how God provides for them?

 

Have you ever noticed how animals are busy in their labor of life, but they never seem to build up enough resources or ideas to change the way they live? They just keeping doing the same thing over and over, and they seem to enjoy it.

 

God created mankind much differently than animals. We inspire and intend to build and create. We like to fix . . . and break. We innovate. We are made in God's image.

 

After Adam and Eve chose to sin and rebel against God, sin began to be transmitted to all people through them. Now, creative builders are also greedy coveters. Ambition often rules in our hearts. Instead of finding joy in what God has provided and designed for us to be and do, we lustfully seek to fill our appetites with more and more consuming and accumulating beyond God's provisions and design.

 

We never have enough. We always want more. This chapter gives divine wisdom on how we should enjoy our portion from God according to His plan for us—both corporately and individually.

 

CONTEXT

 

These verses give ongoing teaching that coordinates with some of the teachings in chapters three and four. It builds off the teaching to fear God because He is holy, as found in the first seven verses. It addresses oppression, greed, economics, loss, rejoicing, and labor.

 

The beginning verses give practical wisdom and warnings that all come to a conclusion in the final three verses that we will look at today. Ultimately, it teaches us how to enjoy our God-given portion in life with God and eternity as our focus.

 

ECCLESIASTES 5:8-20

 

Ecclesiastes 5:8–20

8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.

9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.

10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?

12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.

14 But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.

15 As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.

16 And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?

17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.

18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.

19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.

20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

 

Last week, we only got through looking at the economic-related predicaments described in verses 8-17. Today, we will run through a summary of those points and then focus in on the conclusion found in the last three verses. Let's look again at the predicaments.

 

OUR PREDICAMENTS UNDER THE SUN

 

Vs. 8—Unjust oppression

Fear God and trust He sovereignly reigns. Do not be amazed or frightened over injustice and oppression, but know it always exists in any community and government where there are people deceived in sin. God's people should not be amazed when sinners sin.

 

Vs. 9—We all depend on God

God put self-governing laws in place, like supply and demand, agriculture, and nutrition that brings us all to the same basic needs. Without God, His provisions, and workers, even the richest king will not eat.

Vs. 10—Loving money is self-defeating

The love of money itself is not satisfying, yet it is uncannily luring. We also know the love of money is the root if all evil as it becomes a horrible master.

 

Vs. 11—Increased goods equals increased costs

With increased revenues comes increased cost. The revenues can be seen, but they cannot be used personally. This reality is often overlooked by both the worker and the person striving to become rich through business and career.

 

Vs. 12—Abundance and greed leads to anxiety

Labor and contentment tends toward rest, but abundance and greed tends toward anxiety. It just becomes so complex that it takes unending work and thought to protect.

 

Vs. 13—Saving up riches without investing them hurts everyone

It is self-defeating to seek joy in the guarding and building of riches. Money itself has no value unless it can be converted. Money is meant to move. When it doesn't it helps neither the rich nor the poor.

Without conversion, money is only unused potential. This is why people invest their savings. The conversion supplies goods, creates jobs in the market, and increases future conversion potential for the investor. (That is unless there is loss). Which brings us to the next verse. 

 

Vs. 14—Riches are unsure

Riches are very unsure. One bad business venture, investment, or catastrophe can change everything. That's why our joy cannot be found in riches themselves. Not only that, but also we need to have more to offer our children than money and material things. May we steward finances without them becoming our life. Riches are not immoral, but they are unsure.

 

Vs. 15—Money itself cannot go with us into eternity

Money doesn't go with us to eternity, but what we do with it can. We looked at 1 Timothy 6 regarding this in part one.

 

Vs. 16—It is impossible to catch and hold riches. . . . they catch you

There is not profit in seeking joy and satisfaction in the accumulation of things under the sun.  Under-the-sun thinking and accumulation is vain. It is an attempt to catch the wind. It is a sore evil.

 

Vs. 17—Sorrow and wrath come with chasing riches

Such striving to catch the impossible only stirs within us dark depression, sorrow, and anger. It is a sickness.

 

So, what is the answer to all these predicaments?

Are we to shun all profits and profit-makers?

Should we seclude ourselves in anonymity and live as monks or naturists?

Should we spend and give away all our income and never save anything?

Should sharing be legislated as re-distributed wealth?

 

With so much inequality across the globe when it comes to how much profits people experience, how can anyone "enjoy their portion"? To answer that, we must learn exactly what is our portion, as it relates to profit, according to God's perspective and design.

 

Now keep in mind, this passage is not providing a doctrinal dissertation on the Gospel. We have seen much of that in Philippians. The big picture of Ecclesiastes is primarily showing us one aspect of the Gospel message—the lostness and depravity of sinful men and women. Included within this message is practical wisdom for the created to trust and obey their Creator. This wisdom helps us daily live out God's design for us as we follow Him in faith.

 

So what is our portion to enjoy?

 

OUR PORTION UNDER THE SUN

 

Whether rich or poor, God gives us the same portion to enjoy—our labor in life in relationship with Him.

 

Notice in verse 20 that God causes this one who fears Him to be busy in the joy of his heart and thereby to not remember as much the difficult days. He is busy in the joy of laboring in life with God.

 

This is the equality that I asked you to look for in part one.

 

The good enjoyment of our labor, not just the profit, is our portion from God. This is something all of us can equally enjoy, if received in faith as a portion from our all-wise, good and holy God.

 

This is a mysterious wisdom too often overshadowed by the love of money. There are so many variables that determine the profit we experience—environment, culture, resources, government, trends, opportunities, decisions, people, powers, personal capabilities, education, discipline, etc. If the profit itself of labor were what life is all about, life would be so miserable for most people. It would be vain.

 

We are designed to joyfully and creatively work with the portion, or lot, God has given us—trusting He is good and holy.

 

We do this in fear before Him and not surprised when those who do not fear God get caught up in greedily and unjustly laboring for the wind of accumulation and comparison. The world's system is comprised of this unending attempt to catch the results and profits of labor as their portion without thought of eternal ramifications before God. Such striving passes right over the joy of life's labor in relationship with God.

 

All this goes back to the first seven verses which teach us to fear God because of His holiness—and by implication, goodness.

 

Ecclesiastes 5:1

1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.

 

Ecclesiastes 5:7

7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.

 

IMPLICATIONS

 

Let's consider first the implications this has on oppression and injustice.

 

Ecclesiastes 5:8

8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.

 

Fear and trust in God will help those under oppression find joy in the portion they have, looking forward to eternity beyond the sun. Fear and trust in God will lead those in power to find joy in the good portion of labor they do as well as in the labor they enable others to do. Labor lived and provided becomes something a believer does in living out their faith in God.

 

No longer can their life be compartmentalized with "church and spiritual" stuff over here and "work and life" stuff over here. "Sure, I do some people wrong at work, but that's just part of that kind of work." Nope! An obedient follower of God through Christ cannot live that way.

 

ALL life labor becomes a joyful stewardship in relationship with God. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g becomes part of obedience to God in this kind of living and fear of God.

 

See what's going on here? If the world were full of obedient, faith-filled followers of God, they would take care of the problems of oppression.

 

The solution is not legislation; it is faith and repentance. It is obedience to God. World-wide obedience will not happen until Christ returns, but this still shows us how to personally live as a follower of God today.


Now, let's consider the implications this has on us all in regards to our labor and profits. Our temporal portion from God under the sun is to enjoy the labor, toil, and profits of life God gives us. It is to consider our lot as a unique gift from God especially for us.

 

Too many of us are caught up striving to find joy in our profits of labor—the results.

 

Business owners and politicians who don't fear God live focused more on how to gain from their enterprises than on the cause and the collective benefit of everyone involved.

 

Workers who do not fear God discontentedly focus on demanding larger gains until they have what the owners have, but they don't know really know what it means to what the owners have. They strive for the same wind and vexation.

 

Profits do not create joy in themselves; they only enable the potential of finding more joy in the life labor and stewardship one loves. Profits can be very good if understood and managed properly with fear of God.

 

As God-fearers and followers of Christ, we need to find joy in our portion of labor.

 

If we do not learn to enjoy the labor of life, we live in dark discontentment and anger.

 

The proper degree of contentment and joy described here will only be consistently lived out by those who trust their portion is from God, Who is holy and good.

 

Without fear of and trust in holy God, sinful men and woman will live discontented lives, grasping at that which cannot be obtained.

 

Finding joy in our portion from God is not a natural way of living. It goes against our sinful nature. God came to us through Christ to make this transformed way of living possible.

Christ especially makes it possible for us to enjoy our portion.

 

Matthew 11:28–30

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 

Law will not fix lust. Jesus' immediate context when saying these words was in relation to choosing to submit to His "yoke" in contrast to the yoke of the Law and the Pharisees. In a broader context, Jesus is saying He offers freedom from any yoke of bondage through submission to Him.

 

By submitting to Christ and trusting His salvation of way, we are transformed by God and able to walk in obedience to Him. This is the only way to enjoy God's portion for us both under the sun and beyond the sun. This is how to live "Above the Sun in the Son."

 

Character alone will not correct it.

 

Finding joy in salvation and laboring with Christ throughout all of life's labor is the solution.

 

Let's stop compartmentalizing life and justifying some parts of our life being ungodly.

 

All of life's labor is God's gift to us. It is our portion. Live it out in gratitude to God. Fear God enough to trust what we have is good for us.

 

Enjoy your portion!

 

 

 

 

 

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