Unquestionable Character: A 21-day Study in Stewardship.

Enjoying the Simple Gifts

The writer of Ecclesiastes, the Teacher, in chapter 2 describes his process of elimination to drill down on life's meaning. Many people do the same thing today, only we call it 'finding ourselves.' At the end of chapter 2 the Teacher summarizes his experiences thus far: it is best to enjoy an uncomplicated life. This kind and degree of joy are sharply different from the extravagant pleasures he had pursued earlier, as part of his hedonistic experiment (see 2:1-11). He has at last settled on a more serene variety of joy, a joy that finds pleasure in simplicity and in the process of living (see vv.24-26). But he gives the credit for his happiness to God, 'for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?' (v. 25). A pursuit of any lifestyle here on earth, even pursuing simplicity, will fail if our goals are to get away from stress to avoid work. Without God, even simple pleasures can become idols that will break our hearts. While it is true that the simple life is a goal for some, many other people sill seek the pleasures of wealth and prosperity. Christian financial planner, author and CEO Ron Blue comments:

I happened to notice an interesting statistic in USA Today. It seems that 38 percent of American ages 18 to 29 would be willing to sacrifice happiness for a higher paying job. The older we get, the less likely we would be to make the swap, but even among folks in the 50 to 64-year old category, 25 percent say they'd trade happiness for money.

I can't say that this report surprised me all that much but I had to marvel, nonetheless, at our national perspective. Our perspective determines our beliefs, our vision, our faith, and ultimately, our actions.

I want to challenge you to see things as they really are. I want you, in other words, to adopt the right perspective. The reason this step is so critical is that many people choose this point to get bogged down in the generosity process. Fresh from focusing on their financial problems, they tend - like folks in the USA Today report - to see money as the answer to everything:

If only we had some extra cash, we could take that vacation we need so much!
If only Jim would get a raise, then we could pay off the credit cards or set something aside for the kid's college education!
If only we could afford a bigger house!
If only!