Striving After the Wind
by David Brenneman
"What the eyes see is better than what the soul desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind." Ecclesiastes 6:9 NASB95
We often don't look at there being a difference between the two, but it's evident from reading this from King Solomon...there is.
What do you see that's become more important than the desire of your soul? Is not the desire of the soul of the Believer to be wanting what God wants? We live in an honestly "Satanically Infused" world that has but one goal on his part. To have the honor and glory of God for himself. He constantly is trying to push to get his way all the while the Holy Spirit restrains him from going as far as his wishes dictate. It's no secret of the 'big' things that Satan tries in this world. It's the fact that most people have already been desensitized to his lesser attempts at gaining a footing in the lives of both Believers and the Unbelieving.
What the eye sees is better than what the soul desires...what an observation!
We often keep trying to 'tweak' our lives to just find one more piece of the puzzle to gain the peace and happiness that we think will complete our lives. We often put that ahead of and in place of the desire of our souls...our sanctification in Christ Jesus. We are not our own, we were bought with a price.
"For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:20 NASB95
"You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men." 1 Corinthians 7:23 NASB95
Oh the thoughts we don't consider as being dangerous!
I used to have a Supervisor, long ago, who used to constantly accuse me of "getting wrapped around the axel" when it comes to trying to solve problems. Admittedly I do tend to keep at a problem until either I'm sure I exhausted my own ideas on it or know that I've come to that place where additional help is required. We often get thoughts in our heads that don't seem to us as being dangerous. My way of thinking through problems often doesn't seem dangerous. Yet on many occasions it has indeed gotten me into trouble that could have been avoided. First of which is to realize that maybe it's just not for me to be the one to resolve. There's reasons why there's paid experts in this world.
We often do not realize the truth of King Solomon in our daily lives...so much of what he investigated is summed up as "striving after the wind".
So much futility is wrapped up in what we think makes us happy. We spend billions per year on entertainment that does nothing to build up anyone in Christ Jesus. We can easily be those that call ourselves Christians yet during a sports game throw out the word of God for the sake of enjoyment. Berating, belittling, even friends and family over a team. It's one key reason why I do not follow any sports teams anymore. I did not like at all the idea of tearing anyone down regardless of the reason.
Some of the worst times of my childhood were at my own hands. Those times when it was within my power to build someone up or tear someone down and I chose to tear them down in order to fit in with the crowd. Just like what adults do with sports teams.
Where is the truth of God in those moments? Essentially God's been told to wait in the other room until the game is over.
Where is the desire of the soul in those moments, if indeed the person is in Christ? Told to wait in the other room until it's over.
When you look at your behavior in anything does it reflect a soul that is after sanctification in Christ Jesus? Sports, entertainment things, politics, even religious discussions can have us display seriously unGodly responses to people. I once knew a man who told me that he would pray for me because I wasn't an OSU fan. My only thought, besides the shock of such a statement, was "so...you're going to pray that I follow you in your idolatry?'
When we put things in God's place, that take that passion, that desire, that glory that belongs to Him and Him alone...and put it in place of Him...that's idolatry. Even getting immersed entirely in studying people outside of the Bible, can, cause us to raise those people up to be on the same plain as those who wrote the Bible. The Spirit protects the Bible, God's Holy Word. The Spirit does not protect any other book, person or thing in that manor as He does the Word of God.
Sports wasn't the only thing that I was pouring too much of me into. For me, there were things in the entertainment world that I did the same. Music was one thing, science fiction was another. Things that have absolutely no bearing on my soul's desire for sanctification in Christ Jesus. Indeed as King Solomon wrote, I was following what my eyes desired. Justifying it all. Not at all considering the consequences of such choices. Not realizing there were eternal ramifications.
If your deeds done in your body were put to a bar graph that went from your birth to your death...and the only things that would register on that graph were those things you did for Jesus...would anything really cause that graph to rise at all? Would there be great gaps between times you did what was right and necessary for your sanctification? Would there be great gaps between times of you doing what God's called you to be doing? It's a heavy thought for sure.
All our deeds done in the body will be tested as though by fire.
"each one’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet only so as through fire." 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NASB95
What you are doing in life...is to to please your eyes or your soul? What will become of what you've done in this life when it's tested as we just read?
It's a sobering thought to stop and consider what we're doing and why we are doing it. In family, among friends, at work, we often do something only because "that's how we've always done it". No one understands why. A story circulates of some 'family tradition' of cutting off the ends of a roast for a family gathering. No one understood why. So a curious one started going back a generation at a time to ask why. Turns out the only reason it was ever really done generations ago was the roast wasn't fitting in the oven so the practice at the time was to cut off the ends so it would fit.
We often just accept what we're told by modern medicine because that's how the current 'standard of care' dictates. Yet real 'in the trenches' doctors see past that to the truth of the human body and don't follow along with that.
We often just accept what we're told of the human body and it's needs to be healthy. This too is people who do not understand the human body trying to tell others how to do life right. A university trained monkey's to not go after the hanging bananas at the middle of a room by using water to knock them away from it. They got used to the idea that they shouldn't try. A new generation came in and the first generation wouldn't let them try because of the fear of the water that they never knew. So that new generation never tried and never really knew why.
So why do you do what you do? Honestly, truthfully, you are unique in God's eyes. You are you. You are unlike anyone else, no matter how many survey's say you fit in this or that group of a million people for this or that. What works for your mind, your soul, your body isn't what's necessarily going to work for someone else.
Do you put more value on your sanctification in Christ Jesus than you do what catches your eye?
Are you at all seeing the futility that King Solomon spoke of in desiring what isn't going to cause you to grow in Christ? My interpretation of "deny yourself, take up your own cross and follow Me" tends to lean towards those last 2 words. "follow Me". Denying self is to not to give in to the eye candy of this world. To not give in to what takes us from being fully devoted followers of Christ. Even studying is a good thing, but in perspective. I know of people with so much head knowledge about religious books that their real knowledge of the Word of God has been skewed to obscurity.
"Set your mind on the things that are above" requires a mind that puts "Follow Me" ahead of "Hey God can you keep up with me? This is what I want..." After all...what we want is often really as effective as striving after the wind. It doesn't last. Our deeds done in the body for Jesus...now THAT lasts...