Go Deeper with Andy B, as he looks at Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 and what it all means.
He challenges those of us who are young not to waste our youth; it is short and time flies by.
He also reminds us of the dangers of making decisions based on how many likes we get on social media.
In addition, Andy B draws our attention to the man who had the most pleasure in life, King Solomon himself, and what conclusions he reached on the subject of pleasure.
Our modern culture is all about getting everything quickly from online deliveries, to fast food, to fast download speeds on the internet. We want everything straight away.
But, this doesn’t help us learn patience, or appreciating learning.
Andy B reminds us that we shouldn’t wait to live, but that we shouldn’t rush to live either – we need to strike a balance between serving God, and living, putting God at the forefront of everything we do.
So as we come back into Endurance, and GoDeeper, we hope you've missed us! We've missed doing this, and for our first episode of the new series 3, we're gonna to be looking at The Pursuit of Pleasure.
And the thing about pleasure is we have different ideas about what that word actually means, and depending on how old you are, pleasure will have different connotations.
You might find a great deal of pleasure from a garden, or playing golf. You might find a great deal of pleasure from playing sports, or learning, or studying. You might find pleasure just from sitting down, and doing nothing.
Depending on what season we are in life pleasure can mean very, very different things for each of us.
Erm, I'm gonna read from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 12, er, and it's the, it's the all of chapter 12. 14 verses.
I would encourage you and urge you go off and read for yourself the whole book of Ecclesiastes. It's brilliant. It's a really, really good book. It's not particularly long. You can read it in not very long at all, and it's a really good way of understanding some of the truths.
And just a bit of history about Ecclesiastes.
It's written by King Solomon. King Solomon was an amazingly powerful king, but if you think about the collective might of Amazon, and Facebook, and Twitter, and YouTube, and, and, and the amount of power and influence they have over the world King Solomon, I would argue, had more.
He was far more powerful as 1 man.
The most rich, most powerful, most influential guy. He had everything possible. Ecclesiastes was, kind of, part of his response to having so much and still never having enough, so it's worth a read.
And let's just read this out. This is the ESV, er, Bible version.
Chapter 12 verse 1.
"Remember also your creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw nearer, which you will say, I have no pleasure in them. Before the sun, and the light, and the moon and the stars are darkened, and the clouds return after the rain. In the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few. And those who look through the windows are dimmed and the doors on the street are shut. When the sound of the grinding is low and one rises up at the sound of a bird. And all the daughters of song are brought low, they are afraid also of what is high. And terrors are in the way. The almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire falls, fails, sorry, because man is going to his eternal home. And the mourners go about the streets before the silver cord is snapped, or the Golden Bowl is broken, or the picture is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was. And the spirit returns to the God who gave it. Vanity of vanities ,says the preacher. All is vanity."
"Besides being wise, the preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The preacher sought to find words of delight and uprightly. He wrote words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed of the collected sayings. They are given by 1 Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
The end of the matter all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil."
If you take a snapshot in August 2021, some of these ring quite true. As we see the turmoil and, erm, the ridiculous political responses in North America, of what's been going on in Afghanistan, Erm, that, that in itself is enough turmoil.
But there's, there's just, there's just insanity everywhere we look, there's just ridiculousness.
Er, I've read this morning that the the new Police and Crime Commissioner for, er, was it Suffolk or Surrey Police? is saying that, that, that women victims of Domestic Violence are afraid of men, who now say they're women, being in women's changing rooms.
And she said, the thing is, I'm not even sure I'm allowed to say this. Basically because this is such a hotbed of issues. But, but people's biological sex doesn't change just because they feel like it does.
And she could be in a whole world of pain because of those comments.
It seems ridiculous that stating the absolute, abject, completely obvious truth, of a man as a man, and a woman as a woman, is something controversial.
And if you heard our SpeakTruth montage, before I started speaking, it's about the fact that sometimes what we say is gonna cause people to get a little bit annoyed.
And Ecclesiastes 12 covers some of this stuff.
If you go back to the first few chapters of Ecclesiastes, in my book there's lots of titles about vanity of this, and vanity of that and it's looking about how we think about who we are, what we are, what we look like, what our appearance is.
And that's a lot of what Ecclesiastes is covering. Because King Solomon had everything. More than everything. More than anybody could ever dream of being possibly there to have, he had. He actually had it.
And yet he's saying, well, it's meaningless.
That's another word you'll see from him.
And if you're not quite sure what some of those illustrations are about ,the, er, the almond trees and the crickets, go and find yourself a Study Bible and learn about what all that, erm, pictures, what, sorry, what all those pictures are about, and what they're really talking about.
But let's get back into the pursuit of pleasure today.
So don't waste your youth, is what I've written down, very first thing.
I am 44 years old. I am definitely not a youth anymore. I am probably youth like to an 80 year old, but I'm definitely not a youth. And if I'm thinking about youth, I'm thinking people probably between the ages of, roughly, 15 and 25, is where I would kind of see youth, as somebody who's older.
If you're younger, youth might be 10 to 18, it might be teenage years. You're going to have different perspectives on that.
But I'm thinking really about the kind of 15 to 25 bracket of people. That's what I would look at as youth. Erm, 15 to 21, thereabouts.
Erm, now I can say as a parent of three lads, who are now 17, 16 and 11, that time can fly past you at an alarming rate.
My 11 year old child I remember holding in my arms. My 17 year old son, who's taller than me, stronger than, me faster than me. I remember having him in the crook of my arm as a newborn baby. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and it wasn't. It was 17 years ago.
And time can fly.
And one of the things about being older is you learn certain lessons in life. Erm, I don't for a minute think that because you're older, you are wiser. That's a great little human phrase. It's not necessarily a biblical phrase.
My 11 year old son, who's been a Christian since the age of 3, has greater wisdom than some of the men I meet, erm, because they're immature. They haven't developed their faith.
So we've got to be careful about some of the terms we're using here.
Erm, but vanity. Let's just look at vanity real quick.
Vanity, Tik TOK, at the moment is huge. If you're on Tik TOK, then you're an influencer. I really detest the word influencer. I'll tell you why I detest the word influencer, because it's people who have nothing about them, other than the fact they're famous, changing how people are around them. And they're called influencers and it really drives me mad!
If you want to be an influencer, be known for something, not just being famous.
I've said this before, but there was a, erm, there was a teacher asking the class what do you want to be? And one of them says, well, I want to be, I want to be a celebrity.
Well, for what?
Well I just want to be famous.
Vanity makes us think that if we're famous, and we've got money, and people are liking our posts, and watching what we do, we've got enough views, and people, we've got a following and a community, then we're, we're, getting there.
But King Solomon brings that all right back down to the proper level.
That's why I don't like influencers. Because influencers, they don't stand for anything. They just stand for being famous, and being famous, for being famous, is nothing. In a year's time, no one, no one will remember their name, because there's nothing to remember their name for.
We're in a life of instant deliveries!
If you live close enough to an Amazon hub, you don't have to wait a week or a day, you can have it within hours, the thing you've just bought.
We're in this instant gratification society.
We expect things immediately.
If we go to a drive-through for a, erm, a burger, and we have to wait 5 minutes, we're getting impatient thinking 'come on what are you doing? It's taking you 5 minutes.'
Well, we have to remember have to cook the food, but we've become impatient because we believe we are more important than we actually are.
I I quote Jeff Lucas quite a lot, 'cause he's a really great wise man. If you're not sure, excuse me, who Jeff Lucas is go and Google him. Great speaker. Amazing preacher. Really good books. Some are really funny. Some more great you in your heart. They're great. Go and look up Jeff Lucas.
But he talked about one of the biggest failings, and I've said this before, one of the biggest failings of parents is saying to their children you can be whoever you want to be.
And it's absolute rubbish.
Your child cannot be whoever they want to be. They will be themselves, hopefully. And they're going to be a builder, or a teacher, or a police officer, or they're gonna join the army, or they're gonna be a parent, or they're gonna face only employment. These, these are the things that we are going to have to face,. And when we think about what we're trying to be, we look at ourselves and it gets very confusing because what we think of ourselves changes over time.
We are living in a time when people think they feel like something, therefore they are. And that is just sad. So much sadness there. Because you can't feel your way to something.
If you have a broken arm, you can't feel your way to having a non-broken arm. You need to go to hospital, and get a splint put on, and let time heal it.
We can't feel our way to what we want to be.
We have to live as we are today.
And the gospel is not about living for tomorrow, but actually living today.
And it's not about squishing all of life into one day, and going mad, and drinking, and partying. It's about living your life for God today, so you can be the biggest, and best person you can be for Jesus Christ.
So don't wait to live, but don't rush to live either!
I've done that as a kid buying alcohol underage, 'cos it's exciting. While alcohol's great, but hangovers are not, and when you're immature, and your body is still growing, you don't really know what's going on.
Let's just jump into James. As ever, we'll go to James Chapter 4, verse 14. There's some nice gentle encouragement.
So, James 4 verse 14 says this, starting in verse 13 actually, otherwise it makes no sense.
"Come now you who say today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast in your arrogance, all such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do, and fails to do it, for him, it is sin."
And the thing is, when we're thinking about how we're living our life, we've got to make sure we're living our life as Christians for Jesus Christ.
How we feel changes!
How do we see ourselves?
Well, we need to see ourselves not through us, or the people around us, or whether the words that we're using are popular, or we're getting likes on Tik TOK, or whatever it is. We need to see ourselves through the lens of scripture.
How does God see us?
Well, God sees you is beautiful and with a purpose! You don't have to earn that once you've found your salvation, which you've said that Jesus is my Lord and Saviour. You don't earn it day by day. It's already there!.
So you haven't got to work harder. You can't make Jesus love you more or less. He just loves you with all that He is.
When we're thinking about vanity, and we're thinking about the pursuit of pleasure, and we think about things like, erm, drugs, addictions, habits. It can take six weeks to break a habit. A habit can take you 6 times to do something, 6 occasions, six weeks, to undo it. And we're thinking about addictions. And I look at some of the stuff that's going on around, particularly Social Media. Video YouTube has deleted, was it a million, 10 million videos, for misinformation? But here's the thing about YouTube. Who's saying what's misinformation and what's information? This is why we need to be really careful when we close things down we disagree with.
If you want a good society, you need to have a debate with people you don't agree with. I will defend to the last breath people's rights to say things I disagree with, because that is democracy. That is freedom of speech. So let's not be offended when people say things we don't like. Let's have a conversation.
It's often said of really good authors, who write a book on a particular subject, they'll read all sorts of topics.
So you might be on Facebook and think, 'Oh, somebody just liked that political party. I hate that political party, therefore that person is scum and we don't want anything to do with them.'
But that person could be me, and I actually follow quite a few different political party's stuff so I can get a balance view on what's going on in the world.
So we need to really careful what we're seeing, and thinking, and feeling, and putting it back through the filter. And that's where I want to come to with The Pursuit of Pleasure.
When we think about The Pursuit of Pleasure, we've got to be really careful that as we're pursuing Jesus Christ, that's a really good pleasure to pursue.
And as youth, as younger people, you may be thinking, do you know what I wanna get to where I gotta get you really fast? I'm gonna do all this. And I'm gonna get there.
Somebody once asked why young people are getting into such debt. And when they looked at it, really simply, they said it's because they're trying to get to where their parents got to 40 years of time, it took them to get to that place. That's really bad wording.
They're looking at their parents, who took 40 years to get so much money to buy stuff, and they want all this stuff, that's taken 40 years to get there. But you cannot short circuit your life. It just doesn't work. You have to take each day day by day.
But let's make sure that, as we're walking for Jesus Christ, that we're using the Bible as the filter for our lives.
Let's make sure we're not trying to rush ahead to the end of our lives. Don't waste away your youth. You've got such precious years as a young person! I remember it!
I remember finishing my GCSE's, and my A-Levels, having the entire summer with nothing to do, which means you've got all summer to do amazing things for God. Depends how you look at it.
So thinking about drug addiction, and stuff, habits. Addiction, by the way could just be having more likes on Tik TOK. Don't don't think that's not an addiction. Er, w know there's a huge amount of increasing suicide and depression and anxiety because of Social Media and having likes.
Loads of the big celebrities come off social media. Why? Well, 'because people were hating what we're saying, and liking what we're saying, and our entire lives are based around getting a like, or a comment, or not.'
We need to live our lives according to Scripture. And when we pursue, this Pursuit of Pleasure, is what we've called this, because as we're pursuing Jesus Christ, we're pursuing joy, and peace and hope. These are things that do not change. They are there irrespective of the situation you're in. You can experience joy, and peace, and hope, and happiness in different ways. Happiness. Wrong word. Forget that word. Joy, Peace and Hope. These are the things we can actually have irrespective.
So, Pursuit of Pleasure. As younger people, as we're getting older, don't throw away the huge opportunities you have as single people, who are following Jesus Christ.
Don't assume you're gonna get married, because who knows! That's not necessarily your plan. There are 2 states of sexual place. There's either married, and there's unmarried as a Christian. There's no other place, and both are righteous, and good, for us to be, if that's where God is calling you to be.
But the pursuit of pleasure. Don't try and get more, and more, of something because you'll never satisfy.
The only way we can be satisfied in this life is to put Jesus Christ in our life, to have Him as our Lord and our saviour. And when we put Him first in all we do, when we pursue the things He's got for our heart, for our good, you will find satisfaction in life. Vanity will be less of an issue. Pursuing stuff you can't ever obtain to, or attain to, won't matter because you will already be loved by Jesus Christ.
So my thought for this Pursuit of Pleasure. Be careful how you're being influenced by life.
Make sure that the only influencer you have in your life is Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, and Scripture.
And let's be really careful through, especially Social Media, to make sure that what we are doing, and how we are forming our opinions in the world, and who we are, is based on Jesus Christ, and not what people think of us, or don't think of us.
Let's walk with Jesus Christ, study the scripture, let the Holy Spirit guide you, and then the Pursuit of Pleasure will make sense.
Go and read Ecclesiastes.
Solomon had everything anybody could ever want, and he realised it's all meaningless, because it has no value. Because the only value you will ever have in your life, that will mean anything, that will stand the test of time, is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Written by Andy B