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clock in clouds June 8 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Ecclesiastes 3, 4, 5, 6

Time Well Spent

How do you spend your time? The answers will vary greatly, but according to a 2013-2014 Gallup Pole most Americans are spending an average of forty-seven hours working per week, and some much more. If you are working, do you like your job? Many Americans do not like their jobs (according to another Gallop Pole). In bad economic times they may be glad they even have a job, but how can they enjoy it? How can we enjoy ours? King Solomon offers some perspectives on the use of time and work in today's Bible reading.

As was stated in our last Bible study, King Solomon probably wrote the book of Ecclesiastes in the latter part of his reign. Solomon had great wisdom but tried to sample the ways of the world to see if he could find any fulfillment in them. He had great power and influence, gathered vast amounts of wealth through alliances and trade, planted great gardens and built the temple, his palace, and many other projects. King Solomon accumulated horses and chariots for war. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines and much wine for his pleasure. However, Solomon's conclusion about his pursuits was that everything was meaningless (or profitless) and had no lasting value (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs that the fear of the LORD is wisdom and God’s blessing is upon the righteous. A logical question would be: if Solomon knew what to do, why didn't he do it? The answer is he was human like we are.

In Ecclesiastes Solomon writes from a disillusioned heart. He has made a lot of mistakes and wants his readers to get the right focus so they will please the LORD and enjoy their lives. True purpose and joy begins with a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ (more...). Ecclesiastes is a good book because it stimulates us to examine the priorities of our lives.

What are our priorities? As Solomon says, there is a time and season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Sometimes events in our lives are unavoidable and we must give our time and attention to them. Other times can be used at our own discretion. Each of us is given twenty-four hours. According to the statistics sited earlier, most Americans spend more than eight hours working and seven hours sleeping per day. The rest of our day is used at our discretion. How will we spend our time on this earth? Will it be spent in leisure, with family, internet surfing, social media, entertainment, exercise, or with more work?

Work is a priority in our lives. Sometimes, however, it becomes too much. Solomon writes, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10, NIV). He also writes, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint” (Proverbs 23:4, NIV). A person who chases wealth not only wears himself out but often loses his family.

As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them? The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep (Ecclesiastes 5:11-12, NIV).

With much wealth comes much responsibility and the constant management of it. How much responsibility do we want and how much time and money do we want to spend managing it? Solomon observes,

I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him. 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. This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind? All his days he eats in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger (Ecclesiastes 5:13-17, NIV).

Worldly wealth is temporary. If we cast our eyes upon it, it is soon gone. We cannot count on our wealth. Therefore, if God has blessed us with wealth, we should use it for his glory.

Solomon says that there is, however, some temporal value from work. In Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 and 5:18-20 he encourages us to be happy; to enjoy the work and life God has given us as a gift (The Apostle Paul writes something similar in 1Timothy 6:17). Do we ever think of our work as a gift? A gift is something graciously given. If we talk to a person who cannot work he will give us understanding in this. Work can make us feel good—it exercises our muscles and brains. We are like God when we create things (although we can't create things out of nothing like he can). We are accomplishing some things in this life, using our gifts and talents, and however temporal the results might be, there is some satisfaction in that. Work also gives us compensation so we may meet the needs of our family, and it gives us the ability to help others. The gift of work is even more appreciated when we like what we are doing. If we do not like our work, we should pray that God will help us find other work. In the meantime, however, we can seek to enjoy the work we now have. Praise the LORD for the strength that we have, some of the people we work with, the tasks we are able to accomplish, the goods and services we are able to provide for others, the enjoyment from our labors, and the compensation, however large or small that might be. We can use our earnings to provide for our life, the lives of our family, to contribute to the needs of others and for the LORD's work. We can enjoy the benefits of work.

How else should our discretionary time be spent? Solomon states that

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. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him (Ecclesiastes 3:11,14, NIV).

There is something, actually someone, who is better than any endeavor we might pursue; namely, God. He is Sovereign, Eternal and Almighty. He is our Creator and Sustainer, and he gives life meaning. Therefore, our main pursuit in life should not be human endeavors but eternal endeavors (more...). We should go to church and read our Bibles so we might know more about him and what is important. We should learn to fear the LORD and walk in his ways so he might give us joy in whatever we do (Proverbs 22:4). God is a counselor and friend to all who obey him (John 15:14; John 16:13). Three things God wants us to exercise in this world are justice, mercy, and humility (Micah 6:8). As our reading indicates, there is much injustice and wickedness in the world. We should not horde our resources but help others as we are able (Ecclesiastes 4:7-12).

Lessons to Live By

  • What are our priorities? How will we spend our time which God has given us on earth?
  • Work is a priority in our lives. Sometimes, however it is too important.
  • With much wealth comes much responsibility and the constant management of it. How much responsibility do we want, and how much time and money do we want to spend managing it?
  • Work is a gift from the LORD, especially if we have learned to enjoy it.
  • Our main pursuit in life should not be human endeavors but eternal endeavors (more...).
  • Three things God wants us to exercise in this world are justice, mercy, and humility.
  • We should not horde wealth—we should share it! We will be blessed as we bless others who need it.

Focus Verses

Ecclesiastes 3:13-14 (NIV) “That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.”

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

A Look Ahead: It is not enough to consider how we spend our time; It is also important to Consider our Destiny. Learn more about this in our Next Lesson.

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