Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Under The Sun #2 (Ecclesiastes): “If It Feels Good…” To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store. Search The Gathering Connect.
If It Feels Good Do It? Proverbs 14:12, Romans 6:23, Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, 1 Kings 11:1-6
We’ve all heard the old saying that was coined in the 60’s counter culture movement: “If it feels good do it.” Many people do just that. The problem with living by such a credo is that many things that feel good lead to ruin and misery and not just for the doer but for those connected to him or her as well. Think about it, can you recall any sin that you committed, or anyone else for that matter, that didn’t at first “feel good?” Yet the Bible clearly states that there is a way that seems right to a man (pleasuring himself at all costs) but that way leads to death (Proverbs 14:12). In Fact Solomon wrote that! The Apostle Paul expanded on that truth and said that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Thank God for the second part of that verse that tells us that “death” is cancelled by “the gift of God” for those who receive Christ Jesus as Lord (John 1:12).
In our text today “the teacher” (Solomon) tells of how he engaged in a life of pleasure, and unlike most of us, had unlimited resources to do so. He makes a list of pleasurable things that he engaged in, some of them seemed harmless enough: building houses, planting trees… but others are not so harmless like buying slaves and making a harem for himself. “He denied himself nothing his eyes desired; he refused his heart no pleasure (Ecclesiastes 2:10a). ” We know from scripture that Solomon had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:1-6). We also know that this displeased the Lord.
In his writing Solomon presents us with an oxymoron (a figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear in conjunction) when he says “I tried embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom.” Folly defined is a lack of good sense or foolishness. Wisdom defined is good judgment. You can only embrace one or the other, but when one embraces folly it always seems right…cause it feels so good! That is why you do it… until the consequences set in of course. Solomon himself wrote in the book of Proverbs The way of a fool seems right to him… (Proverbs 12:15). So why didn’t Solomon follow his own wise advice? A better question would be do you?
Be Free! Galatians 5:1, 13, 16-17, 24-25, Ecclesiastes 2:12-23
When a person lives like a fool wisdom goes right out the door, no matter what they write in a book, preach, or teach to others! God’s word clearly instructs us to consider our steps and walk according to His commands ( John 14:15). We are to think beyond pleasuring ourselves and follow God’s way. The Apostle Paul calls this being “set free!” (Galatians 5:1) He encourages believers in Christ not to be burdened again by slavery to sin. This is obviously what we see Solomon bound to as we read on in our text (Ecclesiastes 11:12-23). When we live only to pleasure ourselves we become slaves to sin. Solomon saw his behavior as “madness” and “walking in darkness” yet he said: “The fate of the fool will overtake me also.” What reasoning does he give for this conclusion? Solomon concludes: “Like the fool, the wise too must die”. The very next line Solomon writes after his conclusion to remain in his sin is to write how much he hates life! He is also miserable with the thought that someday someone else will pleasure themselves with what he worked so hard to pleasure himself with. Even at night his mind does not rest. “Meaningless” he quips!
Living only to please self is meaningless. We were called by Jesus to be free from the selfishness of sin and to serve others in love (Galatians 5:13). If we walk in God’s Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Jesus does not want us to do “whatever we want”, He wants us to follow His example (Galatians 5:16-17). He did not come to pleasure himself. He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came not to accomplish His will, but His Fathers (John 6:38). Our grand purpose on this earth is to partner with Jesus to make His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10). We are to crucify our flesh like He allowed Himself to be crucified for the mission to save the lost and reconcile others to Him. When we live with this intent in mind and heart our life has great meaning and purpose (Galatians 5:24-25).
We Reap What We Sow Galatians 6:7-9
We are clearly warned in scriptures not to live for our own pleasures, but to sow things in our life to please the Spirit and to not to grow weary in doing the good that God desires. As believers, we are God’s children and should seek to live for things that eternal and not temporal. Solomon was unsatisfied as long as he tried to fill himself up with pleasure. Only Jesus can fill us up with an abundant life of meaning (John 10:10).
New Clothes Ecclesiastes 2:24-26, 2 Corinthians 4:18, 5:9-10, Isaiah 61:10
Solomon concludes this chapter with advice to find satisfaction in our own toil (work) and to please God. God has made it clear how we are to please Him and what work we are to do. Living selfishly to pleasure ourselves is not the recipe for anything except folly.
“The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unwise or stupid – while in reality, they make no clothes at all, making the foolish king and everyone else believe that the clothes are invisible to them. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new “clothes”, no one dares to say that they do not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as stupid. Finally a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” Suddenly, the crowd erupts in laughter and the king is revealed for the fool that he is.
What is the “weaver” (the Devil) convincing you to put on in this life? Who do you want to impress? How much will you spend? How much will you toil? How much of your life will you spend on your own pleasure only to find that you were chasing after wind? Like the Emperor, each of us will one day parade before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). What will you be wearing—wisdom or folly? Let us fix our eyes on eternal things— clothed in garments of His salvation (Isaiah 61:10). Let us make it our goal to please Him!