Activity or achievement? - Hope 103.2

Activity or achievement?

By David ReayTuesday 14 Jan 2014LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Ecclesiastes 2:4-11

4-8 Oh,I did great things:

                  built houses,
                  planted vineyards,
                  designed gardens and parks
                        and planted a variety of fruit trees in them,
                  made pools of water
                        to irrigate the groves of trees.
               I bought slaves,male and female,
                        who had children,giving me even more slaves;
                  then I acquired large herds and flocks,
                         larger than any before me in Jerusalem.
               I piled up silver and gold,
                          loot from kings and kingdoms.
               I gathered a chorus of singers to entertain me with song,
                  and-most exquisite of all pleasures-
                  voluptuous maidens for my bed.

9-10 Oh,how I prospered! I left all my predecessors in Jerusalem far behind,left them behind in the dust. What’s more,I kept a clear head through it all. Everything I wanted I took-I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse,held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task-my reward to myself for a hard day’s work! 11 Then I took a good look at everything I’d done,looked at all the sweat and hard work. But when I looked,I saw nothing but smoke. Smoke and spitting into the wind. There was nothing to any of it. Nothing. (THE MESSAGE)

Lots of people complain how busy they are. For some this is actually disguised boasting. Their busyness is a sign of how much they are achieving and is a measure of their worth. It is as if the more we do the better we are,the more useful we are,the more fruitful we are.

This is a dangerous delusion. True,we are not to be idle. True,life can be pretty full at times. But to run around frantically doing all sorts of things is not necessarily to achieve very much. How much of our activity is a response to the insistent demands of others? Or a response to our own inner mindset which says that how much we do is a measure of the quality of person we are? How much is actually a result of our being rather disorganised?

The writer of this text,possibly Solomon,realised that all his ‘productivity’ and success and wealth and activity didn’t amount to much. A full life on the outside concealed an emptiness on the inside. So it is when our activity is divorced from our allegiance to God. When we march to drumbeats other than his own. We need to ask ourselves again and again in the midst of our busyness,”What have we actually achieved?” Is it something solid and substantial,or is it all smoke and mirrors?

David Reay