You probably skipped it. Most people do.
I regularly get funny looks when I tell people it’s my favorite book. Perhaps the exasperation and complaining in the first few paragraphs is a deterrent to some. Either way, Ecclesiastes is by far my favorite book of the Bible.
Why? Because it’s brutally honest, pragmatic and simple. And it’s packed with unconventional wisdom that you really can’t find many other places. Here’s a few refreshing gems worth chewing on a bit:
- Have fun. Don’t let hyper-spiritual people fool you. Life for Christians doesn’t have to be dominated by boring drudgery or somber piety. And joy doesn’t come exclusively from spiritual epiphanies. Ecclesiastes endorses the idea that it’s okay to have a great time! Eat delicious food. Dance. Laugh. Wear nice clothes and splash on some cologne. Having fun isn’t just okay for believers. It’s encouraged. So loosen up and have some fun. [See Ecclesiastes 2:24, 3:4, 9:7-8]
- Don’t live in the past. Having trouble with change? Spending lots of time wishing things were the way they used to be? Solomon’s advice on this one doesn’t need much commentary, because it’s pretty straight forward. And blunt. He wrote, “Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise.” Enough said. [See Ecclesiastes 7:10]
- Life isn’t fair. Following Jesus isn’t a fairy tale filled with puppy dogs and rainbows. Sure, there’s plenty of joy to go around. But life can be downright hard sometimes. And from a human perspective, life just doesn’t seem fair. The good die young, and the wicked live long lives. Oppressors are powerful, and victims are helpless. We can’t possibly understand these things, and how they fit into God’s plan. So don’t be afraid to lament when life doesn’t seem fair. Solomon did that a ton. [See Ecclesiastes 7:15 & 4:1]
- Short prayers are great. Sometimes, it sounds like some people forgot that God knows everything. They pray like He’s got no idea what’s going on. Or they pray for a really long time so others can hear how spiritual they are. They must have missed the part where Solomon advised, “…don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.” [See Ecclesiastes 5:2]
- Don’t make fun of the President. Nothing irritates me more than Christians using Facebook to take personal shots at politicians. Or make fun of the President. Whatever your political affiliation, you’d be wise to let Solomon’s words on the topic sink in. He said, “Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts. And don’t make fun of the powerful, even in your own bedroom.” If thoughts and private conversations are included, ripping on the President on Facebook would obviously be a bad idea too. Just saying. [See Ecclesiastes 10:20]
- Let your kids have fun and experience things. Yup – that’s in the Bible. Solomon says it’s great to be young, and we should “enjoy every minute of it”. He even says to “do everything you want to do” when you’re a kid, and “take it all in”. The only catch? A helpful reminder that “you must give an account to God for everything you do”. That should temper decisions a bit. [See Ecclesiastes 11:9-10]
- Stop trying to understand and explain everything. Theological debate is interesting, and conversation about faith are great. But at some point, don’t forget that God is WAY smarter than you. You can waste a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what He’s doing. Just calm down, and trust that He’s got it all figured out. Otherwise you’ll look a bit foolish, like someone trying to figure out the path of the wind. And that would be both weird and pointless. [See Ecclesiastes 11:5]
Some people don’t listen to gentle ideas or creative interpretation. They need a healthy dose of blunt truth right between the eyes. That’s why this stuff is so good. Life isn’t fair! Get over it and have some fun. Who could argue with that?