“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
There’s an African proverb that states, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” The above text is the Bible’s way of stating this same truth. You may go fast for awhile, but if you’re unwilling to do the work of friendship, eventually you will fall and won’t be able to get back up because God created us to need Him, and to need each other.
A few years ago a friend was telling me about his cousin who along with his wife adopted three children from Russia. They couldn’t have any children of their own so decided to bring these children into their home. Well, it turned out to be much harder than either of them thought it would be and it led them to the point of despair many times.
The husband told my friend something like this, “We both said ‘I’m done,’ many times through the years, but as God arranged it, we were never saying it at the same time. When one of us was ready to give up, it just happened that the other one somehow had found encouragement, so we kept going.” He said, “I don’t know what would have happened if we had both been in the place of despair at the same time.”
It’s funny that the way we get really close to people is by walking with them through their low times and by letting them walk with us through our low times. “A friend,” the Proverb says, “loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17) We can’t even know how good of a friend we are, or how good of friends we have until we’ve seen them, or they’ve seen us, at our worst. “All times,” means good and bad.
Have you been hurt or betrayed by a friend or by a church? Are you living in isolation because you don’t feel like the work of living in community is worth it? I want to encourage you to reconsider because God wants us to walk with Him and with His other children. It’s His plan and no other will work.
“You have saved the best wine for last.” John 2:10
I am convinced that God has saved the best of His Spirit for those who are older. I’m not an expert on wine, but I know that the older it is, the more valuable it becomes.
Paul said we are renewed in our spirits “day by day” and that we are being transformed “from glory to glory.” (See 2Corinthians 3-4) The picture here is of ever increasing glory as we grow older in the Lord.
Think about it: The temptations that were so strong in youth no longer grip us when we age, and the youthful pride we often had in our own strength no longer deceives us. As we age, we become better positioned to lose our life for Jesus so that we can find our life in Jesus.
It’s not that the Holy Spirit (wine is compared to the Holy Spirit in a number of places in the New Testament) gets better over time, but simply that less of His outpouring is wasted because of the wisdom gained by walking with God for many years. But only if we grow older in the right way.
There will always be a temptation of getting stuck in the past. In Luke 6:39 Jesus says, “But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is good enough,’ they say.” This warning is about how our past experiences with the Holy Spirit can prevent us from entering into the fresh thing the Spirit wants to do.
Solomon warns us to not “long for the good old days.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10) God says in Isaiah, “Do not dwell on the past; it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19) Dwelling on the past, even the glorious past, will keep us from perceiving the new thing God is doing.
It seems that if we believe our best spiritual days are behind us, then they are. But just think about some of the past giants of faith: Moses was 80 when he led the people of God out of Egypt, Daniel was well into his eighties when he was delivered from the lion’s den, and Anna was 84 when she prophesied about Jesus. (Luke 2:37) God is searching for people to show Himself strong through (2Chronicles 16:9) no matter what their age. So why not you? Why not us?
“All things are wearisome… That which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, ‘See this, it is new?’” Ecclesiastes 1:8-10
King Solomon was in the same state that many Americans are in today. He was bored. He had money, position, and time to do everything and anything he wanted, so he tried it all and still found himself bored. He sought after pleasure through laughter, alcohol, and sex. He sought satisfaction through work, education and the accumulation of wealth. (See Ecclesiastes 2) After all his pursuits he said, “All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them…. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)
Under the sun. That’s the key. If all you live for is that which is under the sun, your life will be mediocre at best. You may have an existence, but you won’t really live. You may accumulate a lot of stuff, and have lots of toys, but eventually they will bore you. I don’t think many Americans are caught up in gambling today because they want to get rich. I think it’s because people are bored with life under the sun, and gambling gives them a little excitement.
There’s a better way. Seek for the One who is over the sun. Jesus said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) When a person truly lives for God a new purpose guides their activities; a new excitement comes into even the mundane duties of life. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” (Colossians 3:23-24) All of a sudden housework becomes holy. You’re not just cleaning for your family, you’re cleaning for Jesus. Work becomes more challenging because you’re not just trying to please the boss, who only checks once in a while, you’re trying to please the real Boss, who is watching all the time. Life is exciting over the sun.
Are you bored? Stir yourself to seek the One who makes all things new.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 NIV
I want to learn how to enjoy the season that I am currently experiencing instead of fighting it. Why is it so easy to pine over what once was, or to long for a future that is different than my life right now? God has made right now beautiful if I’m willing to see it. He has you and me where we are right now. Can we agree with Him in our emotions and even learn to enjoy this season? Or do we fight with God, advise God, disagree with God, and basically go against the grain of the season we’re in with the slivers to prove it? Jesus said to Saul, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” (Acts 26:14)
We can’t fathom the whole of what God is doing in our lives and because of that we aren’t capable of judging how the present season fits. Why not trust God and get into the flow of what He is doing? Maybe you’re like me, frustrated by your seeming lack of control over what happens in your circumstances. If we surrender our need for control we are free to trust the One who really is in control. Easier said than done, but it’s only when we truly let go that we experience His peace. Here’s His promise to us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Whether you are old or young, married or single, employed or unemployed, in school or out of school, happy or sad, on the top or on the bottom… whatever your life is like right now, I challenge you to find God’s beauty in it and to be at peace.
“Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb; and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.” Ecclesiastes 5:15
If you play Monopoly by the real rules a game should take about an hour. During that brief period Monopoly money has value – you can buy property, improve property, and pay your debts with its currency. But when the game is over you put everything away, put the box on the shelf, and there is no longer any worth in those dollars. It will be seen that the same is true of our money on planet earth.
Compared to eternity our time here is called a breath or a vapor. Money has value during this time and how we use it is one way God tests our hearts. Jesus said, “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth who will trust you with true riches.” (Luke 16:11) A few verses later He went on to say: “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13)
How do we pass God’s money test?
- Recognize we are stewards, not owners. We are to love God and use money; not love money while trying to use God.
- We are to give back to God the first fruits of our income (Proverbs 3:9-10) which Scripture defines as a tithe or ten percent. (Genesis 14:20; Malachi 3:10-11)
- We are to be willing to share in any good deed as God leads us. (2Corinthians 9:7-8)
- As riches increase, we are to guard our hearts. (Psalm 62:10) Money is a useful servant but a terrible master.
- We are to trust God as our Source and be thankful because He “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1Timothy 6:17)