Acceptance

The Buddha was right in some regards.  He took a path that was similar to the one explained in Ecclesiastes.  He did not look to heaven as much as he looked to reality, and in seeing the reality of the world he preached a middle way of acceptance.  By renouncing the pursuit of gain a Buddhist can find a higher enlightenment and be released from the never-ending circle of existence.  However, the Bible goes further.  The Bible roots existence in the reality that is created by God.  If one is to truly accept reality, one must truly accept God.  To accept God means to accept a path of reconciliation and surrender through Jesus, who is the Way.  Life with Jesus causes one to mature into a person who accepts all things as coming from the hand of God.  One does not try to straighten what God has twisted, but only to straighten what God wishes to change.

The pursuit of possessions was once only available to kings.  In this egalitarian age, the pursuit of pleasure, wealth, and scientific understanding has made us rich in our own eyes, but our souls are impoverished.  The Buddhist and the Christian can both agree that time needs to be taken out of pursuing our goals and our dreams to see if such things are in line with reality.  Reality, though is best accepted when the Creator of reality is the focus of our meditation.

Ecclesiastes 1:12 – 2:26

12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;
   what is lacking cannot be counted.

 16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

 18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
   the more knowledge, the more grief.

1 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.

 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem[a] as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

 10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
   I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
   and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
   and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
   nothing was gained under the sun.

Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless

 12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
   and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
   than what has already been done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
   just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
   while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
   that the same fate overtakes them both.

 15Then I said to myself,

   “The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
   What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
   “This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
   the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!

Toil Is Meaningless

 17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.

 24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Questions

  1. Why is the pursuit of good things (e.g. wisdom) meaningless?
  2. In the writer’s time why would a king be one of the few people to try his experiment?
  3. How is a life of dissatisfaction oriented toward the future, and how is a life of joy focused on the present?
  4. How do people today become educated without focusing on the present act of becoming educated, but only on what it will do for them in the future?
  5. How could you pray daily in a way that would develop appreciation for the tasks and relationships that God has placed in your life today?  In other words is there a time when you could discipline yourself to do this?

Going Deeper

Buddhism and other major religions have overlaps.  Most religions contain truth.  Should a Christian dialog with other religions by focusing of the difference or on the similarity?  Why do many religions agree about moral behavior and acceptance of reality?  Are the differences significant enough to be emphasized?

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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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18 Responses to Acceptance

  1. Kristin Goffinet says:

    1) The author says that pursuing wisdom is meaningless beacuse the wise and the fool will both pass away and their accompishments will not amount to much.
    2) In the writer’s time, kings and royalties were the only people who had a chance to have wealth of any kind. There weren’t jobs today where you can move up on the ladder of financial success.
    3) If we focus too much on the future, we will be dissatisfied because we will spend our entire lives trying to better ourselves, and we won’t really even have a chance to enjoy everything we’ve gained here on earth- money and wealth never brings satifaction. On the other hand, if we focus on the present, we won’t allow ourselves to worry about to tomorrow, but we will learn to rely on the Lord and enjoy the time and place in our lives that God has put us in.
    4) When we go to college, for instance, we are often so focused on getting our degree so that we can pursue the carrer we desire, that we aren’t really desiring to learn; rather, we are only pursuing a degree.
    5) I try to pray at the start of every day about the tasks and activities of that day, like class, work, extra curriculars, ect, giving them over to God, and realizing despite all the stress how truly blessed I am each and every day!

  2. Sandra Tindle says:

    1. The pursuit of good things (wisdom) is meaningless because, once you die, you have the same fate at the person who did not pursue good things and wisdom. Also, all that you have done is left to the people who are still alive when you die, regardless of whether or not they are like you or if they want what you have left.
    2. In the writer’s time, a king would be one of the few people to try his experiment because kings were the only people that had money and the ability to get anything and everything that they wanted. Most people were too poor to be able to do this.
    3. A life of dissatisfaction is oriented toward the future because you are always looking for something better, because you are not happy with what you have now. A life of joy is focused on the present because you are enjoying and noticing the good things around you rather than worrying about the future.
    4. People today become educated without focusing on the present act of becoming educated because they are applying what they learn to real-life situations, both present and future.
    5. I could discipline myself to pray daily during the hour that I have before lunch every day. That way I won’t be tempted to cut it too short.

  3. Sokloon Dy (Lizzy) says:

    1. You cannot keep wisdom. Wisdom is something that profits you while you live and informs you on the good and bad things in life. So, having wisdom actually more grevious for the individual.
    2. Because they already have the possessions that they want. They have already conquered the material. Now, the only thing that can present a challenge to them is gaining wisdom.
    3. A life focusing on the future can never enjoy the present because the person is not present in the moment but already looking ahead. A life focused on the present can enjoy every moment as it happens.
    4. They focus on what they need for their future career. The reason that they are able to do this is through their desire for survival and success.
    5. I can ask God to help me to enjoy the moment that He has given me instead of worrying and planning for the future. Even though it is not easy, I want to ask God to give me the strength to appreciate the things that He has given me right here, right now.

  4. Kristen Patush says:

    1.Why is the pursuit of good things (e.g. wisdom) meaningless?

    Outside of God, those things are meaingless. Thought they are good things, and they do bring happiness…..only GOD can bring true JOY.

    2.In the writer’s time why would a king be one of the few people to try his experiment?

    Only kings had the wealth to culitvate such a magnificent and pricey life stlye.

    3.How is a life of dissatisfaction oriented toward the future, and how is a life of joy focused on the present?

    If you look to the future, you may get frustrated at the idea of all theings that you could accomplish, not having accomplished them yet. Joy in the present is contentment. You have all that you need; you are not focusing on a far off dream.

    4.How do people today become educated without focusing on the present act of becoming educated, but only on what it will do for them in the future?

    This act provides endurance. They will look to the future to be reminded of what all the hrad work of the task of “being educated” will get them, and push to to perserver through the hard times.

    5.How could you pray daily in a way that would develop appreciation for the tasks and relationships that God has placed in your life today? In other words is there a time when you could discipline yourself to do this?

    In the morning, I could meet him and ask him to prepare me for the day; I ask him to give me the eyes of Heaven. If I keep a focus on the Lord, I will natrually appreciate those thing in my life.

  5. Cassie Clark says:

    1. The achievement of success and building up of possessions is, in the end, useless. It will all fade away or be passed to someone after you. It cannot be taken with us after we die.
    2. No one else had such access to wealth and pleasure.
    3. A life of dissatisfaction anticipates what is next. It is discontent and hopes for something better. A life of joy is grateful for the present circumstances and does not look elsewhere to be fulfilled.
    4.Why do we do this? The purpose of education is not merely for a future career. It is not merely to make money. It is to learn and grow.
    5. I often try to pray during work. I pray and ask God to teach me contentment and often list off what I am thankful for about that day.

  6. Moon [ED 2203;Mon 6:00pm class] says:

    1. Why is the pursuit of good things (e.g. wisdom) meaningless?

    Because the pursuit of those things are meaningless before the fate of lives’ death, although wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness (2:13).

    2. In the writer’s time why would a king be one of the few people to try his experiment?

    In the writer’s time a king be one of the few people to try his experiment, because only a king or a few people have already amassed riches and achievement. that wealth environment of a king and the few people enabled them to try their experiment.

    3.How is a life of dissatisfaction oriented toward the future, and how is a life of joy focused on the present?

    Since people are dissatisfied with the present, the people dream a bright picture toward the future. If people have already had joy of the present life, the people satisfy themselves with the present to stay the stability, not to hope for the future.

    4. How do people today become educated without focusing on the present act of becoming educated, but only on what it will do for them in the future?

    people are pursuing riches, knowledge, or fame which are not able to be continued after death of lives. Since those are not present before them now, they are not satisfied by the present. Even if someone has already acquired some riches, the one would not be satisfied what he has but seek more.Therefore people are continually seeking and pursuing what it will do for them in the future. It is a perseverance of toil, but a vain chasing before our ultimate fate.
    Even Christians can be easily oblivious of what we are seeking in the present and focus on what it will do for us in the future. For instance, if we were studying at moody as focusing on only getting good grades, it would be what we become educated only with focusing on what it will do for us in the future.

    5. How could you pray daily in a way that would develop appreciation for the tasks and relationships that God has placed in your life today? In other words is there a time when you could discipline yourself to do this?

    I would pray that God would give me a thanksgiving heart for the tasks and relationships that God has placed in my life today. and also God would open my eyes to see his present work in my life through a day.

  7. HeeJin,Choi says:

    1.Why is the pursuit of good things (e.g. wisdom) meaningless?
    – I think the pursuit of good things(which are actually indeed good in some ways) is not a useless or meaningless thing to do as long as we do that with no obsession while remembering the utmost value.
    2.In the writer’s time why would a king be one of the few people to try his experiment?
    – Because he once had possessed and enjoyed all he wanted, such as fame, power, wealth, people and even wisdom, but at last he reached to the conclusion that nothing lasts forever.
    3.How is a life of dissatisfaction oriented toward the future, and how is a life of joy focused on the present?
    -When a life is dissatisfaction oriented toward the future, even a second right now is painful to live and hopeless. On the other hand, if a life of joy is focused on the present, the life could be bringing further joy to the present and the days to come in the future as well.
    4.How do people today become educated without focusing on the present act of becoming educated, but only on what it will do for them in the future?
    – People gain knowlegeable and become educated, hoping to be successful and achieve visible accomplishments.
    5.How could you pray daily in a way that would develop appreciation for the tasks and relationships that God has placed in your life today? In other words is there a time when you could discipline yourself to do this?
    – Of course, for now since I am a student and most of my daily life is spent on learning at Moody, the great way to discipline myself to muse and appreciate the great value of what God has given me is to be grateful for the people whom I am engaged in.

  8. rebecca Langer says:

    1.I believe that searching after good things (wisdom) is meaningless because after this life, it does not matter how wise in worldly wisdom you are– it depends on whether you have accepted Christ as your Savior of not.
    2.In the writer’s time, the king would be one of the only people trying this experiment because as King would be the only one rich enough to actually do this experiment.
    3.When a person is dissatisfied, then they will always be looking towards the future because they believe that the future will be much better than the present. A person that enjoys the life he or she is living will not have to look towards the future to be excited because they are having a fine time in the present.
    4.When people are looking towards the future, they are motivated to do things in the present. For instance, I am taking Elementary Education classes not only because I enjoy them, but because they are the way that I will be able to teach somewhere.
    5.I think that a good time for me to pray about being thankful and present in the ‘here and now’ would be at work when I am folding towels. It is relatively a no-brain task, and will be an immediate application to be focused on what I am doing right at the moment. I have to remember that life is made of “todays” not “tomorrows”.
    Going Deeper:
    I think that Christians should dialogue about the similarities between our faith and their religion. It builds bridges that they can relate to. However, I think that it is essential to explain the difference of the motive for moral action. All other religions act right in order to get to God; Christianity acts right as an act of love for a God who came to them.

  9. Kendalle Tanner says:

    The Pursuit of all things are meaningless because it will all go away but The Lord will always be. You will never regret what you did for the Lord but the things you did not do.

  10. spiritandtruth1128 says:

    1. Why is the pursuit of good things (e.g. wisdom) meaningless?
    It is meaningless because the first thing we should be pursuing is God, and at the end of the day if we don’t seek him first, we won’t gain anything meaningful in life.
    2. In the writer’s time why would a king be one of the few people to try his experiment? They had the wealth that humans desired.
    3. How is a life of dissatisfaction oriented toward the future, and how is a life of joy focused on the present? Living for the future brings worries, and stress to a person while focusing in the moment allows them to cherish the present and all the good things happening during that time.
    4. How do people today become educated without focusing on the present act of becoming educated, but only on what it will do for them in the future? Success is now being measured by money, and students want to be successful so they focus on the future, how to be financially secure, and how to meet the standards of the world.
    5. How could you pray daily in a way that would develop appreciation for the tasks and relationships that God has placed in your life today? In other words is there a time when you could discipline yourself to do this? I I think God consistently blows me away by making me realize how many amazing relationships and opportunities (tasks) he has blessed me with, however I dont always appreciate it. I think I could pray about it every day when I wake up, before I go on with my schedule so that it could be fresh in my mind as I encounter people and tasks in my life.

  11. Jessica Gentry says:

    1,) The author says that the pursuit of good things, such as wisdom or wealth is meaningless becuase in the end the wise and the foolish will both pass away. Just as riches will not last forever, and therefore it is “chasing after the wind” which means chasing after something that cannot fully be grasped.
    2.) In the writer’s time the writer himself would be one of the few to try his experiment becuase not very many people could just gain a bunch of wealth, or put themselves in a place where they could give themselves various forms of pleasure when most of the people were not wealthy like that.
    3.) A life of dissatisfaction is future focused because we sometimes make decisions just to please us for the moment, but we do not consider how they will effect us for the long hall, on the contrary joy is present focused because you can just do whatever makes you feel good at the moment, not worrying about the outcome, or the bigger picture.
    4.) Today people become so focused on being educated for the future that they miss being educated for today, we do this by looking towards college and grad school and all that before we even just appreciate the things that we are being taught on a daily basis.
    5.) I think everyday when I wake up and I’m getting ready for school, I could pray and thank God for the day that has been set before me and ask him to help me to not look to far ahead, and yet not be so blinded to the future, so that I may be grateful and fully present in each moment and still be wise about the paths that I am taking that will lead to my future.

  12. Melisa Guiles says:

    1. Wisdom is meaningless because in the end, both the wise and the foolish will receive the same fate. Having more wisdom will not help a person escape their fate.
    2. A king would have more things at his disposure with which to try these experiments. A normal citizen would not have the money or the power to be able to do these tests.
    3. A life of dissatisfaction is always looking to the future for something that will satisfy. It is always waiting for something better to come along. A life of joy is one that can be satisfied in the day to day things, because that joy is not based on the circumstances.
    4. I think we do that here at Moody. We learn all these good things and say that it will help us in ministry, but we do not try to apply it to our ministry right now.
    5. I could start by praising Him for the things that He is placing in my life whether easy or hard and then praying that He would help me to have an attitude of joy in the here and now.

  13. aaron wright says:

    1. its meaningless because only pursuing the likeness of God can bring meaning.
    2. no one else can afford to do it but the king.
    3. thinking about the future can cause one to not trust God. and thinking about the present can just enjoy what God is giving you and to trust Him.
    4. many kids go to school thinking about how they will be successful once they have a carreer, but they rarely take the opportunities to learn about the “here and now.”
    5.I can pray that God will show me ways that I can improve in the daily ways that i portray Him

  14. Amy Kringle says:

    1. The pursuit of wisdom is meaningless in a way because only God can give it purpose. Some people search for wisdom but don’t seek the source of wisdom- God- so they never encounter wisdom.
    2. Only the kings would have enough money.
    3. A life focused on the future has dissatifaction because it wil primarily be based on worry, speculation, and anxiety. It looks at what we don’t have now and what we could have in the future, leading to dissatisfaction with what we currently have. A life focused in the present is joyful because it generally involves being content with what we have.
    4. People imagine what their education could do for them (a better job, more money, etc.) rather than focus on what they are actually learning.
    5. I think I could pray for the people that I have encountered throughout the day as I am getting ready for bed. My mind is often running through the things and people that I have encountered that day, so I can pray for them as the events of the day come to mind.

  15. Kerri Klingsmith says:

    1. Why is the pursuit of good things (e.g. wisdom) meaningless?
    Solomon states that seeking wisdom is meaningless because both the wise and the fool will pass away so it is pointless.
    2. In the writer’s time why would a king be one of the few people to try his experiment?
    His experiment required wealth and time. In the king’s time this would have only been possible for the wealthy and affluent but the majority of the people would not have been able to indulge in that luxury.
    3. How is a life of dissatisfaction oriented toward the future, and how is a life of joy focused on the present?
    Dissatisfaction comes when we focus on the things that are to come. We are constantly striving for tomorrow and therefore can never fully be satisfied with today. Living in the present however, leads us to contentment because we learn to be ok with what God has given us for today. Tomorrow is the Lord’s to worry about.
    4. How do people today become educated without focusing on the present act of becoming educated, but only on what it will do for them in the future?
    It is easy to focus on simply getting the degree and continuing up the ladder of success instead of focusing on why we are getting educated. We need to be more concerned with what we are learning instead of why we are learning.
    5. How could you pray daily in a way that would develop appreciation for the tasks and relationships that God has placed in your life today? In other words is there a time when you could discipline yourself to do this?
    I think starting the day with a prayer to focus on that day. However, it is also really important to have it be a constant prayer and petition to God. It is too easy for our sinful hearts to stray towards thinking on things that are far too lofty for us to attain.

  16. trishaindonesia says:

    1.Because, when we die, none of that will stay.
    2. In his time, a king was one of the few who had control, wealth and “happiness”
    3.Because if you worry about the future, you would never appreciate the life you have now. You would keep thinking of how your future can be happy and get so caught up in the planning of that that you have neglected the joy of your present day.
    4.In high school it’s all about how to get into a great college for a good future. And same goes with being a college student.
    5.Have a journal and write something I’m grateful about that specific day. Re-read through old prayer requests and “future” plans and compare and see how the Lord has provided in those areas now.

  17. 1. wisdom is God’s– we can only pursue Him, not what is His.
    2. a king was the only person who was able to experiment with this because of his finances. everyone else was not that fortunate.
    3. we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow… but we are guaranteed the moment that we are living in. people tend to focus too much on their futures… “will i have enough money? will i have a good job? will i be married to the perfect person? will we have healthy children? will i have a nice house?” the list goes on and on. when in reality, i could walk outside in 5 minutes and get shot and go straight to glory. if we live for the very moment that we are living in and are joyful in it, there is a fulfillment there. focusing too much on the future only leads to destruction.
    4. going to school just for the piece of paper is not what it should be about– becoming educated means learning REAL lessons for your future and the present. people emphasize far too much on grades and perfection (especially at places like Moody where they feel like if they don’t do well, they will not be accepted socially). no… becoming educated should be for something deeper and more serious than just a degree.
    5. something that i do in my prayer life for this area is removing myself from the stresses of my every day life, and go somewhere serene. i enjoy being by any body of water, or in the woods. since Chicago is not famous for its forests, i go to the lake quite often and thank God for the obvious– allowing me to have another day, another chance. i thank Him for what He’s specifically doing in the here-and-now, and i will pray minimally for what has to do with the far future. journaling or discussing this type of prayer can be beneficial for certain people, as well.

  18. [ED2203-01] HyeJin Lee says:

    1. Why is the pursuit of good things (e.g. wisdom) meaningless?
    – Because no matter how valuable they are, people have to leave them at the moment of death.
    2. In the writer’s time why would a king be one of the few people to try his experiment?
    – umm… probably, chances to experience all things written in this book were not given to the ordinary people at that time.
    3.How is a life of dissatisfaction oriented toward the future, and how is a life of joy focused on the present?
    – If one cannot satisfy with present, he or she would probably live his or her life for the future. lots of people in this society tend to live future, not present. they always think about future and just live without satisfaction of their present lives. and the thing is that tomorrow they are longing never comes.. therefore, focusing on the present would be to enjoy our lives which no one knows when they would end.
    4. How do people today become educated without focusing on the present
    act of becoming educated, but only on what it will do for them in the future?
    Students care about their grades and transcript which will affect to the future job and this is not present act of being educated, but it is just being educated without actually being educated.
    5.How could you pray daily in a way that would develop appreciation for the tasks and relationships that God has placed in your life today? In other words is there a time when you could discipline yourself to do this?
    Every morning or night, I would spend time alone with God appreciating my life God has given to me and discipline myself everyday.

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