Wake up, everyone. It's time for The Steve Noble Show, where biblical Christianity meets the everyday issues of life, in your home, at work, and even in politics. Steve is an ordinary man who believes in an extraordinary God, and on his show, there's plenty of grace and lots of truth, but no sacred cows. Call Steve now at 866-34-TRUTH.
That's 866-34-TRUTH, or check him out online at thestevenobleshow.com. And now, here's your host, Steve Noble. Start a real simple question for you as we get going on another Theology Thursday with our friends at BJU Seminary. A real simple question. What are you chasing? What are you striving after? What, once you acquire it, is going to make you feel like you've gotten there, you've made it, you've achieved success? I was talking about success with my US history students this week, because we were talking about the Gilded Age towards the end of the 1800s, when the country just started to kind of bleed money, and you got the robber barons and the Vanderbilts and all that kind of stuff going on. And I asked, you know, what's the American dream? Well, that's to be successful.
What is that? And that's when it got kind of quiet, because most people have a hard time defining what is success, and so we chase after various things. And just like recently, and Billy put this in the paper today, and we'll talk to Billy Gotcher here in just a minute, the American Gaming Association, okay, we just came out of the Super Bowl, right? They estimated that a record 50.4 million American adults, individuals, bet on the Super Bowl. It's estimated that over $16 billion was wagered in legal betting, and more than doubled the previous year's totals. And then of course, we've had a few 1 billion plus Powerball drawings in the last 12 months, and everybody's paying attention to that. And if you could just win that, I mean, it's kind of fun to play that game.
If you had that kind of money, what would you do with it? But contentment and chasing after that and trying to find the meaning of life and stuff isn't always about necessarily the bottom line financially. Sometimes it's just, it's possessions. And how do we kind of deal with the fact that we say every good and perfect gift comes down from the father of lights?
So when we have nice stuff, you're 75 inch, high definition television, whatever the case. How do you look at that as a Christian? Well, this issue for me goes all the way back to 2010. I got into the ministry world as a Christian activist that started in 2004. 2007 was radio. And after three years on Saturdays, doing radio, doing this show on Saturdays, I was on Sirius satellite radio.
So it was nationwide. That was cool. But I had expected that somehow I would be able to get out of running my business, my house painting company, which for a house painting company was successful, but that wasn't where my heart was. I really wanted and was hoping and expecting and thinking the Lord was going to release me. I used to ask people to pray for that. Pray that the Lord would release me from my business and I would get to go full time in the ministry.
And that wasn't happening. So I went on a mission trip in the fall of 2010, came back and two weeks later took myself completely off radio. I canceled a bunch of men's ministry stuff I was doing. I was confused and didn't really understand what the Lord was up to. And it was in that season at the end of that year, 2010, when I realized I really didn't have any contentment in my life. I didn't know what to chase.
The things that I had chased kind of left me empty. And so I started to study in the book of Ecclesiastes. I ended up teaching on Ecclesiastes in the adult Sunday school class I was teaching at the time. And then I taught one on contentment and in a class of very, very much upper middle-class people. When we took a little test, I can't remember the name of the test, but it was essentially to see how satisfied you are. Now, this is an upper middle-class group in a prominent Southern Baptist church here in the Raleigh area. And when we took the test all together, it was like 70 of us, and then we graded it right then and there, what we came up with on average was a C-plus. So we were basically all staring at the Lord in the face based on these really pretty nice lies we were all living and saying, yeah, yeah, God, I'm going to give you a C-plus on that.
So that's very frustrating. We see that in Ecclesiastes. So today, with Billy Gotcher back from the BJU seminary, we're going to dive into the book of Ecclesiastes and kind of deal with how do we find our purpose and meaning of life and the things that we chase after. And is it bad to have money? Is there anything wrong with that?
What about the possessions you have? So we're going to get into all of that. Billy, thanks for being here today. It's such a great topic. It's my pleasure.
Thanks for having me, Steve. And you mentioned before we went live that you just love the book of Ecclesiastes. So before we kind of dive into the details, I know why I do.
And I just shared a little bit of that. But why do you love this book? Well, I think, well, part of it, I just fall in love with wisdom literature. The more I study it, the more I love teaching and studying and just recognizing that wisdom is a gift from God. And He has put specific literature in there, not that all the Bible doesn't offer us wisdom, but there's specific aspects that are driving it very practical.
But they're actually exposing some lies that we believe and often then misdirect our lives. And so I find that just so helpful to look at Ecclesiastes for that purpose. Now, why is a guy whose father was David, who had immense wealth, how can we look at somebody like Solomon who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes and connect with that?
You mentioned that it's incredibly practical, but I think for some people, they're like, I don't know how that can be so practical when the guy was, in today's dollars, would have been obviously a billionaire, he would have had his own fleet of jets, the whole nine comes from royalty. How does that equate to our regular lives? Well, I think Solomon's getting at the question that we all have this built in. I mean, he says in Ecclesiastes 3, God's put eternity in our heart. And what Solomon's dealing with is we all want to understand how life works. Is there an ultimate meaning?
Isn't there? And what he did, because from a position of royalty and wealth and everything else, he could explore what most people could only dream about. And then he could say from experience, not only just practical, but we have to remember that Solomon actually, when, you know, first God appears to him, God says, Solomon, what do you want?
Blank check. Solomon says, I want wisdom. And so other than the Lord Jesus Christ himself, he's the wisest man to have ever lived. And so he not only could experience in the terms of things that most people never would, because he had the power, the wealth position, but he actually could experience it with biblical wisdom informing him, which is where most people who get there don't necessarily have the two together. So he really does, if in one sense, he did the supreme research on this, like no thesis could ever be deeper. No study could be more complete. And he did it with biblical wisdom.
So now he's coming back to give us the consensus or the conclusion, right? Hey, I did my research. This is, I have researched this. I've looked into this. I've looked into that. I've explored that. I've explored that in ways you could never get to. And did it with biblical wisdom informing me. And I'm coming to tell you, that's not what life's all about.
Yeah, yeah. He had that gift of biblical wisdom, yet obviously chose to chase a lot of things in the wrong ways. And I think the reality is that everything that Solomon had to one degree or another are things that most of us long for. We just don't have the power, the prestige, or the cash to get it. But we work towards that. So whether you're looking at thinking you're going to build Solomon's side's kingdom, which most of us could never do that, you're still trying to build a kingdom.
You're still after stuff. Solomon just got a lot more of it than we did. But as we look at him, hopefully we'll learn some things about ourselves. This is Steve Noble. We'll be right back. Welcome back.
It's Steve Noble, The Steve Noble Show Theology Thursday, as it is every week with our friends at BJU Seminary. And sometimes that war, that little song you're listening to, sometimes the war is more internal. And in the 21st century, where we live and have access to just about everything, I got the iPhone 13 right in front of me. I got my MacBook Pro right in front of me. I got a car outside and all kinds of stuff. And you think that's going to satisfy you. But is it wrong to have stuff? And if you have a little bit of wealth, and that's a relative term, obviously, how do we look at that and pursuing that? And if the Lord allows us to have some things, maybe you have a really nice TV at home, you have a cool car, you have a car, something, whatever. You have a little lake house somewhere, you have a boat, whatever.
It's your pool, whatever that is. Is it okay to enjoy that? So we got a lot to talk about today, which is I'm grateful that Billy Gottscher is back in the house who teaches down at BJU Seminary. And we're going to really an incredible source of wisdom in Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, finding purpose and meaning in our life.
And you focus here, Billy, and thanks again for your time. On chapter five, verse one through chapter six, verse nine. And what's Solomon trying to do? Because he's through the power of the Holy Spirit, he's trying to help us. All these years later, he's trying to help us. Yeah, he's speaking into an issue which obviously he was uniquely qualified to speak into, which is when you consider the wealth that was brought into his kingdom and continually by others. And so he had a wealth position to speak from that most don't. But he's really helping us understand why do we have so much trouble getting this right? God provides wealth, God provides, and he's shifting. And one of the things he wants us to see is that hard work, all the American hard work ethic and get ahead, believe in yourself, a lot of that. Okay, God rewards hard work. That's true. But ultimately, God's still the provider. You're not. Your hard work may be a means by which God blesses and gives you something, but the work itself and you were never the provider. God was. So now what I do with it, if I exchange that stuff for God, then I find that it never satisfies me. I'm always chasing, well, maybe that goal wasn't high enough. Maybe I need to go a little further. And then the other side of it is things that are totally out of your control happen and all your money can be worthless.
Oh, yeah. I mean, for a lot of people, they just go back to 2008. 2008 completely shocked and rocked a lot of people's retirement plans. They lost 30%, 40%, 50% of their net worth. And even last year, a lot of people lost a lot of money in the stock market. After the year before, when having 20% or 25% gains in the year before was pretty normal, I remember looking at stuff going, wow, this is awesome. Thank you, Lord.
And then the next year, boom. So that's the point that can just disappear. I wanted to ask real quick, and you said this in the piece today, God's gifts of wealth and possessions do not satisfy. They were never intended to shape our lives. So how do we look at them? I think we all know that intrinsically, but in terms of our lifestyles, I think we struggle with that.
If I can get this, if I can get here, if I can buy this, then I'm going to feel pretty good. But what's the intent of it in the first place since it doesn't satisfy? Well, I think they are good gifts that God gives us to enjoy if we have a right relationship with Him. If we're actually taking the gift of life for the purpose God's given us, which is to know and enjoy Him and serve Him, if we're doing that, then along the way, we will enjoy the gift, because we'll actually use it for the right purpose. And if we try to make the gift what satisfies, it never will, because the giver is meant to satisfy you. And that way, when they, so, I mean, you think about Job in the Bible, right?
I mean, everything to nothing. And yet he could walk through that because he was, as God even said, a blameless man upright in his way. And he could see God as the supplier, and even if it's going to be gone, well, then there's a reason that God allowed this to go. And I can be content in God, because these things don't change my relationship to God.
They weren't meant to. So I often say, I was created for more than the things. I'm thankful for the technology. It makes my life easier. I'm thankful for the, you know, I have a nice, I mean, our home's nice. We have comfortable furniture. I'm glad.
Thank, I'm thankful. But if I make what house I have, well, even if I start to go there, the question is even where do I compare myself? Whose house am I going to compare it to? You know, I mean, I could look at my neighbor and say, well, it's a little nicer than his.
I could go to, you know, a part of the, it's just, oh, what is, there's no objectivity there. So I'm always left in the place that like, well, mine's nice, but somebody's is nicer. Yeah, that's right. Well, you mentioned this off the air, and I was struggling for who the quote was, but it was Rockefeller. And they're asking, you know, how much money is enough?
And what was his answer? It's just one more million, just one more. Just one more. That's it. And then I'm there. And I think whether most of us aren't talking about millions of dollars, but if it's a certain car, if it's a certain house, it's a certain vacation, whatever. And I think I always, especially since I became a father, Billy, I always go back to, I think on this one with God's gifts of wealth and possessions.
Okay. So just decent stuff, nice stuff, whatever you want to call it. I mean, my wife and I like to give stuff to our kids. We enjoy Christmas. We enjoy birthday. We like to give them things.
And then it's nice that they actually thank you. So early on, our oldest, when we were playing the Santa Claus game back then, and then we changed by the time he was, I think nine, he was asking good enough questions that my bald face lies just got to be too much. And so I'm like, okay, we're not doing this anymore. And then when we told our other kids, we had two more at the time and our daughter, Amelia, I think she was probably six or seven at the time. She got this look on her face, Billy, and she looks at me, she goes, so like all those presents we got for Christmas the last few years, was that from you guys? And we're like, yeah. And she goes, wow, thanks. And I'm like, that's exactly what I wanted to hear as a parent, that it's nice that she acknowledged the gift giver way more than the gift. Yeah.
And I think you're tying into even part of what Solomon is saying, right? Because if we forget that, then we think our work is what created that well. And then we forget, no, actually God made it because, I mean, there's plenty of people work hard, smarter than we are, smarter than we are that just never, they never succeed. They never, in the terms of the world's definition, they don't get, well, they don't get the break. They don't get the exposure. So they don't get the stuff.
Or are they failures? Or is it just part of, you know, so, you know, we forget oftentimes that really whatever I have, it's been a gift from God. All good gifts come down from a father in heaven.
No variables, no shadow of turning. I mean, it's a good gift. So if I can keep the gift in the right perspective, then I can honestly enjoy it. And then one of the tests, obviously, is if something gets taken away, was it really about the gift or is it about the giver? And you mentioned that about wealth and possessions can be, you know, gone. And then death, of course, really is the ultimate kind of in your face on that one. Because if your significance is in your stuff, as soon as you die, your significance is gone. Yeah, your life, that was what it meant.
It's over. Yeah. So, I mean, that's why Solomon calls it a serious, a severe evil or a sickening misfortune. I mean, you work all your life and all of a sudden it could just be gone in a moment. And, you know, like you've mentioned, we've had market turns or volatility, rampant inflation, what you could buy, you can't buy, things go up. And, you know, it shocks our system and it is sickening because whatever you think you had for worth is radically changed in a moment. But that's why Solomon says, look, life in a broken world, it has all these dynamics to it. Right. Yeah, you got to pay attention.
Well, he says that, this is verse 10 in chapter five, he who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income. This is also vanity. And you're like, well, okay, that doesn't exactly sound like what I'm being sold online every day or through Amazon or through my own flesh. We'll keep unpacking this. There's a lot to talk about.
And how do you look at your possessions? Do we look at that in a healthy way? There's a lot to learn, a lot to talk about. We'll talk about that with Billy when we come back.
Write it for this. Welcome back at Steve Noble, the Steve Noble Show Theology Thursday with our friends at BJU Seminary, Billy Gotcher back in the house, who's on staff and the faculty teaches at BJU Seminary. I'm talking today about, well, this dude that had it all, did it all, tried it all, that was Solomon and literally tried it all, did it all. And in the end, that's where you get vanity, vanity, it's all vanity, just chasing after the wind. There's this frustration that you understand when you read through the book of Ecclesiastes, that Solomon's looking back on his life and a man that's arguably the wisest person that's ever walked the face of the planet, arguably probably one of the wealthiest people that's ever walked the face of the planet.
And he gets towards the end of his life and he's like, all right, kids, gather around. I want to share a couple of things with you that I learned. You would be wise yourself to listen. And that's why we're using the book of Ecclesiastes today with Billy to kind of talk about finding our purpose and meaning in life and really struggling with this whole topic of wealth and possessions. And I think there's probably a fair amount of people out there right now, Billy, listening to us and thanks again for your time, that are like, well, you know, this doesn't really enter into my sphere all that accurately because I'm neither wealthy nor do I have like all kinds of awesome possessions. I don't have a 75 inch television.
I don't have a boat. I just, I live in an 1800 square foot house or I live in a town home and I just, you know, I have decent stuff and I don't have anything great. Is that okay for people to think like that or are we a little off there? Well, I mean, there's a couple of ways to speak in that. I don't think the struggle with finding meaning in possessions is limited to people who have wealth. I think it's a common lie, I mean, it's a common lie that has been given by the devil to reorient us to look at material things as a source of meaning or purpose. So you can have a little or you can have almost, I mean, you can have a lot like Solomon and what Solomon's trying to say is, look, I had a lot and while you may only have a little, you think getting more is going to do it for you and I'm just telling you, no, it won't. Right, exactly.
It never could because it never could because it was never meant to. It wasn't actually created to do that for you and as long as we believe the lie, then we'll chase it and we'll believe that, well, you know, I'm really not wealthy so, you know, like even, you know, all the warnings to the wealthy, well, that doesn't apply to me. Well, that's where then our getting a little more than outside of an American culture helps us to think about the culture we live in and the lives we live. Yeah, you mentioned that. We were talking about that on the break and you mentioned two experiences that you had like in Nicaragua and Cambodia that helped. When I'm talking to my students, I talk about you got to get your compass adjusted. You should get out of this country as fast as you can because you think your compass is set on true north and life in America is normal.
It isn't. We're an anomaly but it helps to get out of here and go see what abject poverty really is like. But how did that impact you when you went to Nicaragua and Cambodia? Yeah, in Nicaragua, we were helped did a creation seminar with the churches but we also went out and visited the people and helped in some different ministries. But we, on the backside of a volcano, these people lived.
And I probably had never personally seen even that level of poverty and where they lived and the situations they lived in. But we met believers with incredible joy and contentment and what God had given them. And our church, the church building we met at was outside.
It was really just literally some concrete blocks and a few benches and not really even a roof on it at that point. But we were having services there in these remote locations with the believers. And you realize, and sometimes you just have to see it in the life of another believer, their joy and contentment is real and it has nothing to do with stuff.
Right. And so that happened to me. I was telling you this on the break that happened to me in 2002, the first time when I went to Kenya. And these people were just smiles everywhere. They seemed content to me. They were joy-filled, spending a Sunday with them, which was about a three-hour service. In one case, it was out in a field where they had literally made some benches out of some stumps and some others.
I mean, it was ridiculous. And to me, it was like one of the most joyful worship experiences I've ever had in terms of a church setting. And when I came back and they asked me to share in church that Sunday, we got in like Saturday, which was a bad idea because I was all loopy and I went way too long.
I think I talked for 13 minutes, which was a problem when they asked you to come up and share a little testimony in the pulpit. But it dawned on me there with these people that I met in Kenya. In Kenya, where you have next to nothing, God can be everything.
But in America, where you have everything, God can easily be next to nothing. And then we were trying to finish the third floor of the house we lived in at the time. And my wife, we had to pick carpet.
And I'm walking up there going, how many Kenyans could live in this spot? And I'm fretting over the carpet. It's really amazing. So when we look at God's gifts, and then I want to get into the warning before we run out of time when we hit the last segment, but in terms of how we rightly enjoy God's gift of whether it's wealth and that's a relative term, or our possessions, how do we do that well? Because I think it's okay to, you know, if you have a nice yard or whatever, to enjoy that. That's not materialistic by definition, is it? No, I think God wants us to enjoy his good gifts, but enjoy them as a gift.
I mean, Paul even addresses that right in 1 Timothy, where he warns the rich not to to trust that uncertain riches, which reflects what Solomon has said. But then he says, what? Do good. Do good. Be ready to give, willing to share.
So what do we do with this? We're ready to give. We're willing to share. I mean, God is giving me more than my need. In one sense, what's the definition of wealth? I have more than I need. Every day of my life, I've got more food than I'm going to eat that day in my home.
I've got more clothes than I need for that day or even that week for that matter. I have way beyond what many people in this world have. Does that make me wealthy and American standard? No. But am I wealthy?
Yeah. But again, here's another thing. The reality is people can be rich as far as the world standard and not actually be rich. Because with no relationship to God, their riches are just what Solomon said.
You know, you don't take it with you. And if your life was all tied up in that major life meaningful, the moment you die, your life is meaningless. And so there are plenty of people who have riches, but they don't have true riches.
Because without Christ, without a right relationship with God, they miss the very purpose for which those were given. So when I look at whatever amount of money you do have, whatever amount of possessions you do have, is that outside of my relationship with Christ, and it's all about the God of the universe, what he's done for me, what he provides for me, and even the stuff that I have comes as a direct result of his blessings on me. Can I look at that stuff around my house or whatever, Billy, and just go, well, you know what? That's just God decided to throw a cherry on top. Well, I can thank God for it. I think I should.
In fact, it even goes, I mean, Solomon takes one step further and said, look, you can have this stuff, but unless I actually give you the ability to enjoy it, you actually will never rightly enjoy it. You'll keep chasing it because then I'll need the bigger television. I'll need the bigger house. I'll need the rider, you know, this other car. You know, I mean, we all deal with it. I mean, you know, I look at the vehicles I have and I see a nice, you know, see something else and I think, man, it'd be kind of nice to own that. And I'm like, but why?
Is that really, you know, why? And it's just because I, you know, inherently I'm selfish and I look at nice things and go, yeah, I'd kind of like to have that. But, you know, that comes back to going, okay, can I have nice things? Sure. Does that make me an idol worshiper?
No. But what am I doing with them? And do I look at the next thing, the next thing I buy? Am I always looking that to give my life meaning?
If I am, then I'm believing a lie. And it actually is affecting my relationship with God. Yeah, there's a lot of idolatry options in here. And then, of course, stewardship issue.
Thanks, Billy, on Facebook. Stewardship becomes a part of that as well. But let's kind of, I'm going to turn the corner so we make sure we spend a significant amount of time as we push towards the last segment of the show.
A lot of warnings, just a profound warning to everybody that we reject this wise counsel for Solomon. And he talks about several specific things like, okay, well, if you want to live like that kind of chasing the American dream lifestyle, here's what's going to happen. Yeah, that's what he that he gives it a whole illustration. That's kind of point chapter six and starts one to nine. And he just goes out, okay, here's here's this thing that happens.
It's common. God gives you riches. God gives you honor. You have all of this stuff.
You have the desires of your heart, but he doesn't let you have the power to enjoy it. So you've chased, you've chased, you find, but you don't ever really are never satisfied. So the and there's that. So what was the purpose of it? Right. You know, you believed it would bring you meaning, but it didn't. So it's do it.
Is it really that old back to that Rockabilly answer? Is it really one more? Is that really the problem? Is it one more championship Tom Brady that's going to satisfy you? Is it one more ring?
What, you know, is it really one more? Is that really what life's about? And God's answer is no. And many times God graciously brings the frustration of that to get our attention. And that's the question. Does it get our attention?
Yeah. Does it get our attention? Do we repent? Do we change our direction? And I want to go back to something you've said a bunch of times, Billy, which is that that God enables us to rightly enjoy those blessings.
Because if we're out of relationship, then you're putting weight on those things. A friend of mine, Matt Papa is a hymn writer, wrote a great book. And in the book, he's taught, he said something about nothing can withstand the weight of your worship. Everything's going to crumble under that. The only thing that can withstand the weight of your worship, which we are created to do is God himself.
Right. So when you're in right relationship with God, you can look at your stuff, medium, really nice, super nice, whatever. And as long as you're in right relationship with God, you're going to look at that stuff. And it's okay to say, Hey, Lord, this is a, I love this car.
Thank you so much. And that's fine. You're not a, you're not a materialist when you do that. No, God's given different levels. And I often look at it and say, you know, one of the things, God entrusts those resources and to a godly person, I've often said this, you won't give a godly person too much because he's going to do right with it. That's exactly right. But one more dollar to an ungodly person isn't going to help them.
Isn't going to help them. And then as you get into that frustration that Solomon was talking about plenty more to talk about, we've got one more segment with Billy Gotcher on Theology Thursday. This is Steve Noble.
We'll be right back. Welcome back at Steve Noble, The Steve Noble Show Theology Thursday, as it is every week with our friends at BJU Seminary down in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina. By the way, just about every week, not all of them, but most of them, we will include the professors down at BJU and the seminary there are kind enough that they'll write a blog post that usually goes along as kind of our talking points. And that's a great opportunity for you to kind of dive into a little bit deeper the things that we're talking about today. We don't have a blog post, but I do have this incredible paper that Billy Gotcher wrote. So it's not very long. It's a couple of pages. So if you'd like a copy of this, what we're talking about today, Ecclesiastes, finding our purpose and meaning in life.
I think all of us, if we're honest, struggled with this to one degree or another in terms of possessions and what we're chasing and what offers you satisfaction from the world's perspective versus what the Lord would have for us. Just email me. I'd be happy to share this with you.
Billy, I'm sure that's okay with you. I can pass this thing around. So just email me, Steve at thestevenobleshow.com is my email.
It's always been that. Steve at thestevenobleshow.com. And I'll be happy to pass this along with you. And you can study that yourself and contemplate and pray over that yourself.
Maybe bring it in your Sunday school group or your small group. Because this is something like I mentioned at the beginning of the show, I taught several lessons on contentment years ago. And boy did we all need it.
I think we all struggle with this one. So again, Billy, thanks so much for sharing this great teaching with us. And we were talking during the break. I've mentioned the iPhone here sitting in my studio many times. And one of the points, one of the questions is, what does this teach us?
And thinking through Solomon's wise counsel, what does it teach us about goals in our lives? And the vain philosophies of the world we live in, which we are, you mentioned this break down in Florida, when you go fishing, sometimes the fish are in a season where they're just in a feeding frenzy. And you literally broke up a CD. Is that what you did?
Yeah, I broke up an old CD and just tied it on a hook. And we were catching fish just on something shiny, shiny, and they jumped all over it. And then anytime you spend on social media, the internet, Google, whatever, their algorithms do nothing but that they just throw shiny objects in front of us all day long, which then makes you think and that's the terrible thing, especially for young people with social media, is your life looks horrible, lame, boring, cheap, ridiculous, pathetic, you're a loser. That's the message you get there. So what do we take away from this in terms of the vain philosophies of the world relative to what Solomon's teaching us? Well, I think Solomon does provide us with a profound warning that, I mean, he didn't live a culture with the kind of media access that we have, but he still lived in a culture where people struggled with, you know, of their adornment and they, you know, they would, you know, they wanted gold apparel and fancy hairdos. I mean, the things we still see today, it's just now we're in the place of a 24-7 where those messages are bombarded and they're targeted at a younger generation that is still finding their own, you know, coming to their place of their own convictions, their own view of the world, and it's all being shaped. So, you know, the media has learned, marketers have learned, target them young, target them young. And if you can win the battle of messaging, then you win the battle of affections. And if you win the battle of affections, you win the direction of a life. And so this vain philosophy of the world is just an old lie.
It goes right back to the garden and then it gets marketed to people. And unfortunately, unscrupulous people want to monitor, you know, they just turn people into monetary. Right. Right. So if I can get customers by doing this or, you know, then that's what I'm going to do, or I can control the outcome by getting certain people to believe these things. So that lie gets into that self-referential that we can be the master of our own faith, we can define our truth, and we really can't.
The world was created by God, it was created for God, and to try and live in God's world my own way is not going to work. That's right. And it will just lead to frustration and destruction. Yeah. And all of that, I mean, that's the hiss of the devil going all the way back to the garden.
Absolutely. And which is Solomon's point, there's nothing new under the sun. It's the same old thing. And the devil's called the prince of the power of the air. And so we have to remember, the devil wants to control the narrative. That's right.
And so many, I mean, he's got what many willing compatriots, unfortunately, that will share messaging and make it look attractive, make it look fun, make it look like it's the answer. Oh, yeah. Yeah, that's the answer. And like you said, they will mark it off discontentment. They always want you to be discontent.
Oh, absolutely. I got to be discontent with whatever technology I have, whatever look I have, whatever body physique I have, whatever. I need to be discontent because then I'm going to buy the next thing they tell me will satisfy.
Yeah. And there's an answer for all of it, as long as it's not God, which is exactly what's saying. You know, they don't ever even give you a break. I mean, you go buy the thing, they say it's going to satisfy you. And they're telling you the next commercial. Well, that isn't good enough. iPhone 14 is coming out soon, Billy.
So you better get ready because it's way better than your lame-o 13. And it happens that fast. They won't even let you be content. That's just, yeah, there's no rest. There's no Sabbath on that one.
This has always been a fascinating one. A lot of people probably stumble over this and are like, what? So this is in Ecclesiastes chapter six, starting in verse one. There's an evil that I have seen under the sun, Solomon says, and it lies heavy on mankind, a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions and honor so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires. Yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, which you mentioned earlier, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity. It's a grievous evil.
Then here's the next part, which I want to ask about. If a man fathers 100 children and lives many years so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life's good things. And he also has no burial. I say that a stillborn child is better off than he is. I mean, help us understand that, because that's a pretty strong statement.
And he really uses an extreme illustration, right? I mean, he is illustrating that, you know, the uselessness of great riches and a long life, if you cannot enjoy them, it's just useless. I mean, you could live 2000 years. You could live all this.
You could have all these kids, all these possessions. But if you never enjoy them, there was absolutely no purpose in them. You've been better off not to live. And now Solomon's not saying go commit to it.
He's not that. He's just saying, if you buy the wrong meaning and purpose of life, you can make your life meaningless. And you did that because you actually didn't accept God's definition of the meaning and purpose of life. And so, you know, if we get lied to and we accept that lie, we chase all the lies, we come to the end of life and said, none of that did that for me. Yeah, it would have been better to have not dealt with that at all. That's why he's talking about being a stillborn child. That's why he calls it a grievous evil that you did have all of this and you couldn't even enjoy.
You found no real satisfaction. I mean, at the end of that, it's so what? Well, you said, I mean, you mentioned this earlier, Solomon describing this nightmare as a sickening misfortune.
I mean, that's some really strong language. So imagine that you get to the end of your life and you chased all this stuff. And of course, we hear story after story about the only thing that really matters at the end of life, what you're thinking about are your relationships, your family, your children, your spouse. But that's such a strong statement, the sickening misfortune. Well, and it follows right coming right after this one of my, you know, come into chapter seven where he says a good name is better than precious. So we meant the day of one's death better than day one's birth.
You talk about shocking language. Because he's coming to this at the beginning of life, life's uncertain. I mean, we're joyous.
You know, I was a pastor for many years, go to the hospital. It's a lot of fun. As long as the baby's healthy, mom's healthy. Sure. You're just super excited. Well, but that life is still very uncertain.
A lot of potential, but a lot of uncertainty. At the end of life, when I'm doing a funeral for a saint who's lived well for God, it's a celebration. While there's loss and there's grieving, there's still a celebration of life because there's a certainty that life was well spent.
It was well lived. And Solomon really wants us to push out towards the end of life and think backwards and say at the end of life, what's really going to matter? And it's not stuff. It's not what's really going to matter.
It's not how many hours you spend in the work. Those relationships are going to matter. Those people are going to matter.
It's not that. Your relationship with God's going to matter. So push out at the end of life, be reflective, but don't wait till you get to the end of life. Right.
Do it now. Yeah. I think that's that, hey, Solomon, what would you like us to say about you at your funeral?
Yeah. And I, you know, I wrestle with that sometimes just wrestling with the notion that love is the centerpiece of the whole Bible. And I'm like, it's anybody when I die, Billy, is anybody going to say, hey, you know, we're here today to celebrate Steve's life. And the thing that I really remember and appreciate about Steve is that he was really loving.
I don't know how many people would say that. I know that a lot of people are going to say he was bold. He was loud.
He was active, but loving. So just in the last two minutes, Billy, point us in the right direction. What should we be laboring after? What should we be pursuing?
Well, I think we should be pursuing that. Do we have a right relationship with Christ? And in that relationship, is that really, you know, godliness with contentment, great gain, we're supposed to pursue godliness, like with a zeal, meaning growing in that relationship, beginning to see life. I often say to my students, we're learning to think God's thoughts after him. And I need to learn to think God's way about life and about what's important, how I spend my life.
I also have an accounting background. So I think in terms of, you know, every day I just have, I'm at the same amount of seconds everybody does that I have, I'm spending them. So what am I spending my life on? Well, what am I spending it on?
Is it really worth the investment? And the more I can think that way, and I think about what does God called me to do, then I begin to think, you know, I'm supposed to be like Christ filled with compassion, filled with compassion for lost and hurting people who desperately need to hear the love of Christ. Yeah.
So how do I leverage what God has given me to help that happen? Yeah. Well, I was going to say real quick, my cousin, she and her husband, who he died at a fairly young age, worked for Young Life. And when he died, Billy, at his funeral in Winston-Salem, there was like, I think there were 1200 people there.
And the overwhelming majority of them were high school and college students who got in a line. And one after another would step up to the mic and say, man, he had such a huge impact on my life. Not about money, not about possessions. And I'm like, that's a funeral.
I want my funeral to be like that, that I had an impact on people for the name of Christ in a godly way. Billy, thanks so much. What a great conversation. Such an important topic. This is Steve Noble on The Steve Noble Show. God willing, we'll talk again real soon. And like my dad always used to say, Ever Forward.
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