September 18 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.”
~Ecclesiastes 5:19

OLD TESTAMENT

We might title this section in Ecclesiastes “How to Face the Brutal Facts.” The Teacher is not a pessimist; he is a realist. He tells it like it is. There is poverty and oppression in this world, and in some cases no one is there to fix it. There is envy and greed in this world, and unfortunately this competitive (read: cutthroat) spirit is one of the things that drives economies. There are those who work all their lives to amass a fortune but have no one to leave it to. Sad. There is the person who pours his life into making it to the top—he may even become king!—but is soon replaced by the young guy who comes out of nowhere.

The Teacher is telling it like it is. He is certainly not opposed to relieving oppression. He is not opposed to working, or to saving money, or to advancement. However, none of these have meaning in themselves, therefore, none are suitable to be prized as the ultimate goal of our lives. The world’s problems persist. Money is only good for this one life, and advancement doesn’t last either. And here we circle back to the point we made yesterday. It is only in worshipping God (fearing God) and doing what He says that we find true meaning. In Him, we find a satisfying end, a conclusion far better than one we might fashion with our own hands.

Slow down. Find as much joy in your work as you possibly can. Take time to eat what is satisfying and drink what tastes good. Partake of the happiness that is available to you right now where you are. Enjoying simple pleasures from the hand of God makes life in this world more bearable (Ecc. 5:18-20).

All the striving in the world cannot make life meaningful or satisfying, but God can. Make it your aim to glorify and enjoy God every single day of your life. Slow down to enjoy the blessings He has given you! That’s good advice.

NEW TESTAMENT

Paul had his critics as every preacher does. I recently came across a blog dedicated to tearing down the ministry of a well-known evangelical pastor. The man has devoted his life to preaching the Word and planting churches all over the world, but since he is such a strong leader—and a bit of a maverick—he’s an easy target. Paul was too.

The Corinthians had divided themselves into factions: the Paul Party counted themselves as his supporters; the Peter Party were probably those from a Jewish background; the Apollos Party were probably the Greeks; and, of course, the Christ Party, those who believed themselves to be particularly “spiritual.” The Christ Party causes Paul the most problems. They criticize his writing, his leadership, and his speaking, but the apostle refuses to respond by bragging about himself. Their disapproval is aimed at a bunch of surface stuff anyway (2 Cor. 10:7).

The real issue is the spiritual pride of the Christ Party (2 Cor. 10:11-12)! When people start comparing this preacher with that preacher or one person’s style with another person’s (and so on), they are glorifying man, not God. Be wary of those who take upon themselves the task of evaluating proven servants of the Lord. (False teachers are another topic altogether.) The desire to critique is almost always rooted in pride, and broadcasting criticism ultimately detracts from God’s glory (2 Cor. 10:17). It only glorifies the critic. Ironic.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.