Faithlife Sermons

Ecclesiastes 4:8-16

Ecclesiastes  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  52:59
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We know in our finiteness, it is impossible many times to remember something that was said 5 minutes ago, much less something that has been given over the last four weeks in our journey of Ecclesiastes. However, within this finiteness God has given us resources so that the truth from these passages are yielding tiny shoots of growth in our lives. He has given us in the living Spirit within us to make the seed of truth bear fruit. We have Christ at God’s right hand interceding for us, and one’s whose very position assures that His work will be complete in us. What kind of effort does God allow us to partake in for this process? In a nutshell is there something you and I can be bringing to God ans seeking clarity and help with?
Let’s use a simple picture of the scene of a birthday party where all the kids are ready to pounce on all the candy that comes when the pinata breaks. The setting creates a limited time with the intention of getting all that a kid can hoard around him.
The author of Ecclesiastes captures that limited brevity with the word vanity. Life is brief and fleeting. Vanity also portrays the emptiness of using that brief period to accumulate things for oneself. It never satisfies.
Rather than accumulating things, positions, and pleasures in this life and seeking meaning from them, the author declares that these temporary matters should be enjoyed as a gift from God. This would be like the kid taking one piece of candy from the pinata and sitting down to lick it slowly while enjoying all the flavor.
If we were to allow the pinata illustration carry over into today. One would not only take the time to enjoy the gifts of God in life, he would also find someone to share them with.
As a dear child with your Father, keep asking for insight as to how you are using his gifts for your own purposes. Ask Him for help to live with the brevity of your life in view. Then ask for help to utilize and submit to the seasons that he fittingly brings about in your life. Specifically we are asking God today for insight into how we use people for our gain rather than bringing gain to people.

Question: Do people benefit from a relationship with you or are people used for your gain?

The limits of the question:
On Guard
Increases burden
Thinking you can only be one or the other
Things you cannot see now
The toughness of the question- things aren’t that bad.
I get along with people
I am nice to people
I am good as long as nothing controversial is brought up
The value of the question - it probes or observes beyond the surface. The text here will look at three situations in which it looks like some is climbing the ladder of success or doing just fine, but further observation reveals otherwise.
As we begin looking at our proposed question, the author gives us another observation about a reality that can easily keep us from giving much thought about relationships

The freedom of independence blinds you to poverty in relationships

Ecclesiastes 4:7–8 NKJV
7 Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun: 8 There is one alone, without companion: He has neither son nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his labors, Nor is his eye satisfied with riches. But he never asks, “For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good?” This also is vanity and a grave misfortune.
Effort is done alone. There is no second.
He/she is always working
The drive of his work is his lack of satisfaction. 10 hours of overtime is not always a boss or need driven. It is driven by a heart that wants more- ATV’s, coffees, clothing, bigger house.
Thought is not given as to who is gaining? The one who is always working is not finding satisfaction or joy. The relationships around him are not benefiting either.
This drive has led him to empty and futile living. It is an unhappy business.
How can we know if we are being greedy or we are enjoying gifts that God has given?
Are people tools for my cause?
How much of my life is characterized by how am I feeling and how much am I getting done? Life that is not futile is one that is asking how “we” are doing?
Illustration of Biltmore mansion. We toured it and were impressed by it, but that is all.
The loneliness of the driven man is then used as a springboard into the advantages of having more than one. Having more than one person does not remove the selfishness of the heart nor does it always simplify life. However, when interacting with this question about relationships in your life, the author gives us a commendation that we need to hear.

Two Are Better than One

Ecclesiastes 4:9 NKJV
9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.
He starts off with a parable of two being better than one. it is commended for bringing more profit. The profit is not defined. It could be more work being accomplished or they are benefiting each other more.
He then gives three situations in which two are better than one. Each is followed by a comment or question. The setting that would seem to accompany the three scenarios is that of a journey in the Ancient world that is fraught with dangers. In the midst of the dangers a companion is needed.
Ecclesiastes 4:10–12 NKJV
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
A man traveling alone is face with the dangers of falling, freezing, or being attacked.
Companionship is seen for its benefit in providing help in the fall, warmth in the cold, and protection in the attack.
The conclusion is given that if the advantage of two is good, then there is more strength in three.
The desire for companionship needs to be distinguished from the the importance of companionship. The loneliness of the heart cannot be remedied by mindlessly adding companions to your life. When companionship is selfishly pursued, one accumulates people for their own security and identity. Some examples would include befriending someone because they are wealthy. Saying the humorous joke so that you feel important. Pursuing the relationship with a girlfriend or boy friend because you look good with the pretty girl or feel worth with someone who gives you attention.
Having considered the dangers of carelessly pursuing companionship, we need to ponder the need of companionship that this text brings out.
In verse 6 of chapter 4 we saw that it was better to have one hand with quietness rather than two hands full with toil and striving after wind. Here we see two is better than one. This pattern is set in the Godhead. Christ came to earth and showed the importance by taking disciples to come and be with him. He paid a dear price to rescue us from the vanity of pursuing our own agenda and give us brothers and sisters
Mt. 18 speaks of the need of two or more in protecting one from being deceived about his side of the story. He then indicates the special way in which Jesus is among those who agree on a petition and bring it to the Father.
We can go on about the importance of life in the body of Christ. I would round out the application on the value of companionship by asking you: “Are people close enough to you to know you as we walk this journey filled with dangers within and without?” This would include proximity and shared time together, but that alone can be done while staying miles apart.
Brother, how do you balance tasks around the house with the importance of spending time with your kids?
Sister, I am wrestling with a bitter spirit. How have you dealt with that struggle?
Young person, what is most discouraging about life in the church body?
As you view the need of companionship one other personal question, could be helpful. Rather than asking constantly asking how you feel or what you get accomplished, ask: “how are we doing, what are we getting accomplished together?”
There is one other situation the author bring up at the end of this chapter that helps clarify whether others benefit from a relationship with you rather than being used by you. This scenario has a few confusing parts in it, but a clear enough message. It warns us against another trap that can substitute for helpful companionship.

The approval of many is no substitute for companionship

Ecclesiastes 4:13–16 NKJV
13 Better a poor and wise youth Than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more. 14 For he comes out of prison to be king, Although he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I saw all the living who walk under the sun; They were with the second youth who stands in his place. 16 There was no end of all the people over whom he was made king; Yet those who come afterward will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
High position has its limits and dangers
One gets secure in the position.
He has been so long in a position that he does not know when to step aside.
It is easy in this position to look at others as threats. One can actually try to secure himself in this position by not training replacements.
It is easy to not take advice.
His time is limited. One comes and another goes.
This would caution against making messiahs out of people.
This warns us against being deceived about our influence with the number of people that we know our like us on our social media pages.
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