Have you ever held your hand in front of water and tried to grab it? What happens? It runs right through your fingers, and then the drops run down your hand. You can’t grab hold of it, and it just slips away.
Ecclesiastes is not a cheery book of the Bible. A lot of Old Testament books aren’t. However, as I got up this morning, I couldn’t help but think of the similarities between some of what the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes and what Jesus teaches in the Gospels.
Jesus never says life is meaningless, but meaningless isn’t the best translation of what the Preacher is getting at in the book of Ecclesiastes. The Hebrew word is “Hevel”. The idea of hevel is that the more we pursue something the more it slips through our fingers. Its like trying to grab water. You can’t really grab water. It just runs in between your fingers. The Preacher in the book likens it to chasing after the wind.
This morning, while thinking on the word hevel, I was reminded of what Jesus said in Luke 17:33 – “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” It reminds me of hevel. The more I chase after security and the things of the world, the more life will slip through my fingers.
Jesus is also recorded as saying this a couple of times in Matthew. Here is one from Matthew 16 –
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Matthew 16:24-26 ESV
What good is it to gain the things of the world and lose his soul? Its hevel, because the things of this world pass away and eventually we ourselves pass away.
It can be kind of depressing to think this way and to think, “Well, what’s the use? I’m going to die anyway!” Jesus continued –
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Matthew 16:27-28 ESV
You may have stumbled upon this blog and not believe in God. You may think the whole thing is just weird, or maybe you’ve been hurt by someone who is a believer. I’m sorry if that is the case. Unfortunately, broken people hurt other people, and the truth is we are all broken to some degree.
However, this idea of hevel; the pursuit of things that just don’t last – when we don’t live for eternal things then we are living for hevel. Whoever dies with the most toys still dies.
How do we live for eternal things? That answer is trusting God in the person of Jesus. It is faith, belief, and followership of something much bigger than ourselves.
I don’t want to live for hevel. There is too much anxiety in that. It is a zero sum game.