Ecclesiastes 9.10 (2008)
Mature Christians Are Passionate Christians
A professor, before handing out the final exam, stood before his class of biology students. He said, “First, I want to say that it’s been a pleasure teaching you this semester. I know you all have worked extremely hard and many of you are off to medical school at the end of the summer. I know you are excited that the semester is over. So that no one gets their GPA messed up because you might have been celebrating a bit too much this week, anyone who would like to opt out of the final exam will receive a “B” for the class.” Many of the students clapped their hands and cheered and took the professor up on his offer. Those who took his offer, he dismissed from class. He looked at the handful that was left and said, “Anyone else? This is your last chance.” A couple of more took him up on his offer. They were dismissed from class. He looked at the few that were left and said, “I’m glad to see that you believe in yourself. You all have “A’s.”
All too often we settle for “B’s” when we could have “A’s.” We often settle for the good rather than the best. As a Church or as a Christian, we should settle for nothing less than the best. God wants us to enjoy and experience the best. Now, if we are to have the best, there is a simple requirement. To have the best, we must give our best.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” He also said, “I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so till the end.” Solomon put it this way:
· Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
He is telling us that in whatever we are doing, we are to be our best, and do our best. Let’s look at his words consider three lessons that speak to us about doing our best.
1. The Purposeful Reward of Our Work
This whole verse reminds that our life has a purpose. There is a in what we do in our life. There is something that each of us has to do.
· I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. (Psalm 139:14)
The Psalmist recognized that he had a wonderful Creator. He also realized that this Creator had created him with a wonderful purpose. The word “wonderfully” speaks of that which is “set apart.” God had set him apart, or to say it another way, had created him with a purpose in mind.
a. Finding God’s purpose for our life
Life’s greatest discovery is learning what God’s will for our life is.
· Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:17)
The word “understanding” means “to put together.” It is like a puzzle in which every piece is in place revealing fully the picture the puzzle reveals. It is coming to a mental comprehension of God’s will for our life.
How can we know God’s will for our life? When Solomon spoke of doing something, he was not speaking of just doing something, but finding what it is that a person is to do. There is a specific thing a person is to do and we are to find what that is.
The word “finds” implies that one has looked or sought to know what it is that they are to do. Do you desire to know God’s will for your life? Are you seeking to know that will? Have you ever asked God to show you His will?
The will of God is not a difficult thing to know. We often act like God is reluctant to show us His will. That is not the case. God will never tell us to understand His will if we could not know His will.
I have found that there are basically two reasons why people do not know God’s will. First, there is not a real desire to know what that will is. Oh, we say we want to know God’s will, but deep down on the inside, there is not a real desire to find out what that will is. Secondly, there is not a willingness to do the will of God. God will never show His will to those whom He knows will not do what He asks them to do.
The great quest of life is to find God’s purpose for their life. It is a purpose that is known by those who have sought to know that purpose.
b. Following God’s purpose for our life
Solomon’s words speak of someone who has sought and found what they are to do and are doing it. There is not only the matter of finding God’s will, but also following and fulfilling God’s will. We are to find what it is that God wants us to do, and then do it.
Finding God’s will is not only one the greatest discoveries of life, it is also one of the great blessings of life.
· And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:17)
There are both personal and eternal blessings that are enjoyed and experienced by the person who does God’s will.
Do you know God’s great purpose for your life? Have you found that purpose, and if so, are you following that purpose. It is the purpose that defines all that we do. How we serve and where we serve is defined by God’s will for our life. It is more than just having a job in the Church. It is much more than just doing something. It is doing what God wants you do.
2. The Passionate Response in Our Work
“Do it with all your might.” The Bible in Ephesians 6:6 speaks of “doing the will of God from the heart.” What does it mean to do the will of God from the heart? It means to do God’s will with passion. It speaks of doing your best and giving your best. Solomon tells us that when we find what it is that we are to do, we are to “do it with thy might.”
The word “might” speaks of “strength” or “vigor.” We are to do what we do with all our strength. We are do it with vigor. Solomon is telling us that we should give our best and do our best in what we do for the Lord. Why should we give our best?
a. God’s work deserves our best
In 2 Samuel 24:24 we find king David saying to Araunah,
· “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24)
David was expressing the conviction that God deserved the best he had to offer. Anything less than his best was being disrespectful to the God he served.
In whatever we do, we should give nothing but our best. Why? Our Lord deserves nothing less than our best. If you are a deacon, you should be the best deacon you can be. If you are a Sunday school teacher, you should be the best teacher you can be and give your best to study and preparation. If you sing in the choir, you should give the best. Whatever you do, the Lord deserves the best you can give Him.
Did He not give His best for us? He gave His Son! He died for our sins on Calvary’s cruel cross. To give Him less than our best is to be disrespectful for all He has done for us.
b. God’s work demands our best
Yes, He deserves our best, but it is also true that He expects nothing less than our best. This is expressed in Numbers 18:29 and a law concerning the kind of offerings that were to be brought to Him.
· Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave offering due to the Lord, from all the best of them, the consecrated part of them.’ (Numbers 18:29)
God called for the best and expected the best to be presented to Him.
One of the indictments of the people in Malachi was their offering of less than the best.
· “You offer defiled food on My altar, But say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 1:7-8)
They were offering stale and moldy bread as offerings to the Lord. They were also bringing the poorest of their flocks, sacrifices that were blind, sick, and lame. Malachi said to them, “Try giving such gifts to the governor. Do you think he will be pleased or accept such gifts?” The answer is obvious and neither was God pleased with such offerings, nor would He accept them.
There is no work that deserves anymore than our best than God’s work. As well, there is no work that demands our best anymore than God’s work. You can’t half do God’s work and expect Him to be pleased and to bless such work.
Do you have a place in the Church where you are serving? If so, are you giving your best? Are you being faithful, committed, and serving with all your might? God deserves and demands only the best.
3. The Practical Reason for Our Work
Solomon gives us a reason why we ought to do our best. He says
· For there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
He reminds us that each of us has an appointment with the grave. I know you will find this very encouraging. Simply stated, he tells us that we are going to die.
Two fellows were talking one day about when they die. One said, “What you like to hear people say when they walk up to you and look down at you in your coffin.” He replied, “Look, he’s moving.”
Whether we like to think about it or not, we have a destiny with the grave. When it comes to what we are to do, Solomon reminds us of:
a. The opportunity that exists
Solomon tells us that there is no work in the grave. In other words, what we do we must do in this life. Right now—the present—is our opportunity to do what it is that we are to do. This moment is the only one of which we are assured. James reminds us of the uncertainty and brevity of life.
· Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (James 4:14)
I have had people say, “Preacher, I plan on getting involved.” What they are saying is that one day they are going to get involved. That day may never come. We are not guaranteed another day. This may be our last. This is only day of which I am assured that I have an opportunity to do what I am to do. Today—now—is our opportunity.
b. The opportunity that ends
He tells us that there is no work in the grave. When we are dead we don’t get a second chance to do what we are to do. The grave brings to an end the life we are given to use for God’s glory. In simple words, THIS IS IT!
In light of the fact that the grave will bring us face to face with the Lord, we should avail of ourselves of the opportunity that is ours to serve to the Lord. And, seeing that we will give an account of not only what we do for the Lord, but also how we did what we did, we should give God the very best.
Ed Spencer was attending Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois. Ed was a rather well known athlete of his day, for he was one of the first to win a gold medal for the United States in the Olympics. The campus of Northwestern is bordered on one side by Lake Michigan. One evening, as Ed was doing his studies in the library, outside a storm was raging. All of a sudden some fellows came running in shouting, “The Lady Elgin has just been thrown in the rocks and is sinking.”
Ed ran from the Library out to the lake and saw the situation was indeed serious. Without a moment’s hesitation, he rid himself of any extra clothing that might hinder him and be dived in the rolling, chopping waves. He was able to reach the wreck and, fighting his way back, he brought the first person to safety.
He had repeated this heroic effort several more times when those on shore said, “Ed, you’ve done all you can. You’ll surely kill yourself if you try it anymore.” Ed’s reply was, “I’ve got to go my best.” He plunged again and brought another one to safety, and another and another until he had rescued 17 people. He could go no further and fell unconscious on shore.
All through the night, as he lay in the infirmary, he kept repeating, “Have I done my best, fellows? Fellows, have I done my best?” He had done his best but the experience cost him his health. Years later, inspired by the story, Ensign Edwin Young wrote the song, Have I Done My Best for Jesus?
I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,
Who died upon the cruel tree?
To think of His great sacrifice at Calvary!
I know my Lord expects the best from me.