I have been reading through Ecclesiastes. I find myself returning there a lot. A king who seems to have had it all, both of good & God, along with wandering out into the world to see what it had as well. I imagine he would have to be considered one of the great wisdom teachers that the world has known. Why? I imagine because he has been through it.
One friend shared with me the other day, wisdom only comes through the pain of suffering through it.
I am struck by his honesty about the world and what he sees. One passage specifically in Ecclessisates 4:4, "And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor."
I find it intriguing for the king of Israel who inherited such blessing and wealth to come to this conclusion. If there was a man who seemed to have been able to have never engaged in such a topic because of his wealth, fortune, and status, he should have been able to have never dealt with it with the people around him. Who was wiser? Richer? More popular? But then again, even the king has the same places in his heart. Envy, selfish ambition, pride. It takes one to know one, isn't that how that phrase goes?
It is interesting to engage with a culture and our world that has this often under everything else. At the bottom of most things, we could find this scripture coming to reality. I think that is why the struggle of the gospel and God's kingdom is always so opposite from this. When we find ourselves looking out and see this envy and achievement, it is pretty disgusting. Whether it be in church gossip or greedy capitalist. And when we look deep enough, we always see on the outside, what is often on the inside. I have no doubt, even Solomon in all his wealth and wisdom still felt this as well. Even the man who seemed to have it all.
I think it is important for us to be the first to confess as Paul said, the chiefest of sinners, and in that be able to name those things within ourselves. I know for me, as I confess, and I admit it is the same inside, that somehow the work of the Spirit can bring me to a deeper place.
I think the question of what really motivates us is a tricky one. Freud has his theories. But maybe it's exploring the depth of our own struggles where we find our need for a better motivation.
I think that is what I am looking for these days. A great love. A greater motive then often what finds itself lurking in my heart. I am glad Solomon is able to guide the way.