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August 2, 1994

Gratuitous Pleasure

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“I will test . . . pleasure. …” But that also proved to be meaningless. ECCLESIASTES 2:1
If wisdom and knowledge don’t give us a tremendous sense of meaning and hope, maybe we ought to pursue something that is a lot easier to acquire. Maybe, instead of trying so hard to find something that satisfies, we just ought to go directly to pleasure, laughter, and the good things of life.
Perhaps those things aren’t by-products of something else; maybe they are worth pursuing all on their own. After all, in the end, we only want to be happy. What could give greater happiness than pleasure, wine, and laughter?
As he does with everything else he has talked about in Ecclesiastes 1-2, Solomon throws cold water on that great idea. So far he has checked everything off the list we have placed in front of him. It is as if he has read our minds, anticipated our thinking, and managed to checkmate us every time we moved in a different direction.
Sure, he says, pleasure feels good, comedy works for a while, and wine tastes great. But in the end those things prove to be anything but worthwhile. They don’t work very well as the focus of our lives.
Have you been filling your life with temporal pleasures? How would your life be changed if you began to focus on the eternal instead?

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