Ecclesiastes Episode 5

Beth's Notes

1 Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:  I saw the tears of the oppressed-- and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors--and they have no comforter.  2 And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive.  3 But better than both is he who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.  4 And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor.  This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  5 The fool folds his hands and ruins himself. 6 Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. 7 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: 8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless-- a miserable business! 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. 13 Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to take warning. 14 The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom. 15 I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king’s successor. 16 There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:1-16 (NIV)

 “Make the Word come alive to us, Father make it come alive….”
Solomon sounds a bit like Sigmund Freud who stated: “Work is the most powerful deflector to keep us from having to face the unhappiness of our existence.”  Or Jeffrey Salkin in the Wall Street Journal who writes:  “Americans work so hard that we often put work at the emotional and spiritual center of our lives.” And God would say to that: “Meaningless”, “Meaningless”, Amen? God can use the monotonous and the meaninglessness of this life to point us back to Him. For only in Him is there meaning and purpose.
When Solomon first examined life “under the sun,” his viewpoint was both detached and philosophical. He states earlier in Ecclesiastes 1:4-11:
4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new?” It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow. Ecclesiastes 1:4-11 (NIV)

Solomon concludes from this that life was both meaningless and monotonous. Yet now, when he examined the question further, he investigated places where people actually lived and discovered that life was really not that simple. No ivory tower investigator will ever have a balanced view of life if they remain in the tower. Learning and living must be brought together. Ideas fleshed out. He observed those living in real situations and he now had to deal with and take in some painful facts. He was not going to be able to put his conclusions into some nice little proverbial box of his own making.
As I read through this passage (over and over again), I could not but help  noticing the differing themes emerging in these 16 verses and the reason being most of them were lived apart from God: oppression, corruption, sadness, lack of comfort, mis-used power, covetousness, envious competition, fruitless chasing, laziness, lack of contentment, greed, misery, lack of companionship, foolishness which produced overly confidence, manipulative charisma, callousness, extreme fickleness of man and evil. Not a very pretty picture, Amen? Life apart from God is never a pretty picture and defies logical analysis. Indeed, a good definition for insanity is sin. Any time we choose to go our own ways – disregarding God’s will – we end up like the prodigal in the pig pen. As we have said a million times before, sin never stays at one level – it is always going further still down – as God would have it. I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Ephesians:
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NIV)

Going on further to explain in Ephesians 2:11-12:
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)-- 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:11-12 (NIV)

But God…..Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 2:2-10:
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:4-10 (NIV)

In these verses we find hope and purpose not meaninglessness and purposelessness. We are loved by God and we are called to do His good works that He prepared in advance for us to do. We do not want to miss that!

To see if his suppositions were true, Solomon visited four different places and observed people going through a variety of experiences and recorded his observations. His conclusion, differing from his first one, was that life was anything but monotonous as we have no idea what problems (or blessings for that matter) may come to us on any given day. I am reminded of James’ words in James 4:13-17:
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. James 4:13-17 (NIV)

Plans are not the problem – indeed we are foolish not to plan – but not allowing God to interrupt or change our plans is the problem. It is His perfect and pleasing will we want to walk in – not simply one or our own making.

It is no wonder Solomon wrote in Proverbs 27:1:
1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1 (NIV)

The psalmist writes in Psalms 33:10-11:
10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalms 33:10-11 (NIV)

We are so good at making our plans but it is the Lord who determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 tells us:

9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
Again, Psalms 33:14-22 tells us:
14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth-- 15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. 16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. 18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you. Psalms 33:14-22 (NIV)
Solomon begins his search by looking at the oppression that was taking place and he began in the courtroom. The nation of Israel had had an adequate judicial system based on divine law, but the system could be corrupted just like anything else when flawed humanity gets involved.  Politics has been defined as “the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”  
Solomon went into a courtroom to watch a trial, and there he saw innocent people being oppressed by power-hungry officials. The victims were helpless to protest. The American orator Daniel Webster once called justice the “ligament which holds civilized beings and …nations together.” The “body politic” in Solomon’s day had many a torn ligament!
The king witnessed three tragedies in the courtroom: (1) oppression and exploitation in the halls of justice; (2) pain and sorrow in the lives of innocent people; and (3) unconcern on the part of those who could have brought comfort.
Solomon lamented the desperate and hopeless plight of the oppressed who cry out for help but find none because of the irresistible power and authority of their oppressors. The repetition of the words they have no comforter emphasizes their plight. Therefore Solomon stated that a man is better off dead or, better still, never having been born than having to witness the evil oppression that takes place on earth because of injustice.  
I find it extraordinarily interesting that Solomon, who of course, was King of Israel – as well as the wisest King to ever live (and the richest) yet he chose to live a life contrary to what God had specifically told a King to do and not to do. Because of this his kingdom reaped great consequences from his actions, and not only the kingdom but he as well.  That is why we constantly hear in his writings this meaninglessness and purposelessness of it all. The rules God laid out for a King of Israel are found in Deuteronomy 17:14-20:     
14 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” 15 be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. 18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel. Deuteronomy 17:14-20 (NIV)

Contrast the above with Solomon’s actions in I Kings 10:14-25:
14 The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents, 15 not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the land. 16 King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred bekas of gold went into each shield. 17 He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with three minas of gold in each shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. 18 Then the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. 19 The throne had six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. 20 Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom. 21 All King Solomon’s goblets were gold, and all the household articles in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s days. 22 The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons. 23 King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. 24 The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 25 Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift--articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules. 1 Kings 10:14-25 (NIV)

It continues on in 1 Kings 10:26-29:
26 Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. 27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. 28 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue --the royal merchants purchased them from Kue. 29 They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans.  1 Kings 10:26-29 (NIV)

Though Solomon’s wealth enabled him to purchase large quantities of horses and chariots, this practice was specifically prohibited in the Mosaic Law as we read in Deuteronomy 17:16. The reason for this prohibition was that the Lord wanted His people to depend on Him for their protection. The presence of strong physical defenses in Israel turned the hearts of Solomon and the people away from the Lord with a false sense of security.  As is often the case, an abundance of material benefits leads people to think they have no needs when in reality their need for God never diminishes. Never. Paige Brown writes:
“Being comfortable in sin is not a blessing but a judgment…Do not trust your peace.” Paige Brown 
“Our complacency is our destruction.” Paige Brown
And lastly we see Solomon’s greatest downfall in marrying foreign women who began to turn his heart away from Jehovah. In 1 Kings 11:1-6:
1 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter--Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. 1 Kings 11:1-6 (NIV)

God cared greatly about the holiness of His people – as He still does.  They were and are to be set apart from the world and not to blend with it.  He tells us in Leviticus 19:1-2:
1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.’” Leviticus 19:1-2 (NIV)

Peter stating likewise in 1 Peter 1:16:
15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV)

When the top becomes corrupted or rotten, whether it is in a business, or in a marriage, or in a country, or even in an apple – it does not take long for the whole to be corrupted, Amen?  This is what Solomon seems to see – the consequences, the devastation that sin wrecks on lives but he does not own it.  He sees the corruption, the wrong-doing, but he takes no responsibility for his own actions blinded by his own flaws – deceiving himself into sure destruction and everyone else that was under him.  Since Solomon believed that he was above the law so too his officials and the innocent suffered. Just as when the Israelites were sacrificing their babies for worldly gain, the innocent suffered. Isn’t that so often true?  We become blind to our own flaws yet piercingly good at seeing them in other people’s lives. Repentance is what Solomon should have done when he climbed out of his ivory tower and witnessed all this evil. Fall on your face Solomon (Beth) in repentance and look up for help. I am reminded of Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 30:15: 
15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. Isaiah 30:15 (NIV)

Next Solomon visits the marketplace in verses 4:4-8. Disgusted by the hall of so-called justice, he ventures to the marketplace to watch the various laborers at work. Surely this would not disappoint as honest work is a gift from God’s hand being present in the Garden before the fall. Here Solomon considered four different kinds of men:

The industrious man (v. 4) – It was natural for Solomon first to find a laborer who was hard at work. After all, hard work is extolled as a virtue in Scripture if it is for the right reasons. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:23-25:
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.  Colossians 3:23-25 (NIV)

This man was not only busy, but more than likely skillful and competent in his work and in mastering his trade. But (and this is a big “But”) the motivations of his heart were a disappointment to the King. The only reason these people were working so hard was out of envy and competition with their neighbors to surpass them with skill and wealth.  Their purpose was not to work as unto the Lord by making beautiful and useful products or to be able to help others financially, rather, to be better than their neighbor. God did not put this “selfishness factor” into human labor; it is the result of sin in the human heart. We covet what others have. We not only want to have those things, but pride pushes for even more – having more than others. Covetousness, competition, and envy often go together. Competition is not sinful in and of itself but it becomes sinful when it becomes prideful, hurtful, dishonest, or trouble to others.  We are to do our best for the Lord and not for man.  

The idle man (vv. 5-6) – Solomon moves from one extreme to the other and begins to study a man with no ambition at all. Solomon had no sympathy for lazy, idle people who sit all day with folded hands doing nothing. Solomon learned nothing that he did not already know:  laziness is a slow, comfortable path toward self-destruction. It may be pleasant to sleep late every morning and not to have to go to work but it is unpleasant not to have money to buy the necessities of life. Solomon writes in Proverbs 6:9-11:
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. Proverbs 6:9-11 (NIV)

Paul addresses this in the New Testament as well in 2 Thessalonians 3:10:
10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV)
The overly industrious man was motivated by competition and caught in the rat race of life and headed for self-destruction.  He had no leisure time – no end to his rat race of wanting more than others.  The idle man was motivated by pleasure and was headed for ruin as well.  He had no productive time.  
Solomon now examines the balanced man (v. 6) – Here was a man whose life was balanced. He was productive in his work, but he was also careful to take time for quietness and tranquility.  He did not run in the rat race but neither did he try to run away from the normal responsibilities of life.  God desires for His people to lead balanced lives and this can be difficult at best, Amen? Why have both hands full of profits if those profits cost you your peace of mind and possibly your health? Better to have gain in one hand and quietness in the other. When the heart is controlled by envy and rivalry, life becomes one battle after another. Proverbs 15:16 tells us:
16 Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. Proverbs 15:16 (NIV)

We see in James 3:13 – 4:4:
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 8 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. 

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it.  You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:  “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 3:13 - 4:6 (NIV)

Paul tells his beloved Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-10:
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV)

The industrious man thinks that money will bring him peace yet he has no time to enjoy it. The idle man thinks that doing nothing will bring him peace, but his lifestyle only destroys him. The balanced man enjoys both his labor and the fruit of his labor and balances toil with rest. 

The independent man (vv. 7 – 8) – Solomon now notices a solitary man, very hard at work – all alone without relatives or partners to help yet did not seem to desire any – wanting the profits all for himself. Yet, like the industrious man, he had been so busy he had no time to enjoy the benefits of his labor. And when he died and had no family to inherit his wealth it would be all vanity a chasing after the wind. Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This independent man never stopped long enough to ask himself: “For whom am I working so hard? Or Why am I robbing myself of the enjoyments of life just to amass more and more money?” The Industrious man was at least providing employment for people, and the idle man was enjoying some leisure, but the independent man was helping neither the economy nor himself. Solomon’s conclusion in verse 8: “This too is meaningless--a miserable business!” Ecclesiastes 4:8 (NIV)
Solomon’s experience caused him to consider the importance of friendship and the value of people doing things together. “Two are better than one”, he writes.
Two are certainly better than one when it comes to working because two workers can get more done. Even when they divide the profits, they still get a better return for their efforts than if they had worked alone. Also, it is much easier to do difficult jobs together because one can be an encouragement to the other.
Two are better than one when it comes to walking (v. 10). Roads and paths in Palestine were not paved or even leveled, and there were hidden rocks and holes in the fields. It was not uncommon for even the most experienced traveler to stumble and fall, perhaps break a bone, or fall into a hidden pit. How wonderful to have a friend to help you up or even out!  And if this applies to physical falls how much more so does it apply when we stumble in our spiritual walk and need restoration? Paul tells us in Galatians 6:1-2:
1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV)

How grateful we should be for Christian friends who help us in our faith walks. Remember Proverbs 27:6 states:
6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.  Proverbs 27:6 (NIV)

We are not to get defensive or angry rather always take what is said back to Scripture. If it fits, wear it. If it does not, disregard it. I have been blessed by people telling me the hardest things. I want to continue forward, being conformed into the image of Jesus and there is a much still left to change! Our hearts are deceitful and we can easily delude ourselves. Let’s seek to have ears to hear.

Two are also better when it comes to warmth. Palestinian nights were cold and the need for another’s warmth for comfort was necessary to keep from having to carry extra blankets adding to your load.  

Finally, two are better than one when it comes to safety – though one may be overpowered two could defend themselves. It was dangerous traveling alone. Most people traveled in groups for both fellowship and safety.

Lastly, Solomon talks about a cord of three strands which cannot be easily broken. My mind goes immediately to the Trinity and the omnipotence of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  This “cord”, of course, cannot be broken. But in further reflection, I thought of all of our relationships from marriage to family to friends to co-workers – if God is the “golden” strand within these relationships the cord will be most difficult to break. This, indeed, is a beautiful picture of proper relationships. God wants to be in the center of each of our lives and He is to be in the center of our relationships as well.  When we invite Him into our relationships His golden “cord” keeps these relationships from becoming quickly or easily broken. 

Lastly, in verses 13-16 Solomon introduces a story that teaches two truths: the instability of political power and the fickleness of popularity.  Wisdom must be key. We are to live our lives for an audience of One. If you are out to please man or self, in the end it will be meaningless.  Oliver Cromwell once stated: “Do not trust to the cheering, for those persons would shout as much if you and I were going to be hanged.”  
Solomon understood that life was complex, difficult, and not easy to explain. One thing is for sure: no matter where you look, you see trials and problems and people who could use some encouragement. However, Solomon was not cynical about life. Nowhere does he tell us to get out of the rat race and retreat to some safe and comfortable corner of the world where nothing can bother us. We need each other and further we were made to need each other. Life does not stand still – it comes at us at full speed, without warning yet God is never taken by surprise and as believers, He uses everything we encounter for our good and His glory never one surpassing the other. We must lean into and depend upon Him and His power that indwells us. We will never be tempted beyond what we are able to bear but He will provide a way out – a door of escape. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul states:
13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
This chapter also emphasizes balance in life. “Better a handful with quietness then both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.” It is good to have the things that money can buy, provided you do not lose the things money cannot buy. What is it really costing you in terms of life to get the things that are important to you? How much of the permanent are you sacrificing to get your hands on the temporary? Or, to quote the words of Jesus in Mark 8:36-37:
36 “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:36-38 (NIV)

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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