"Wisdom, Work, and What Is Worthwhile" (Ecclesiastes 2:12-26)

Ecclesiastes  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:46
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A Bible Study of Ecclesiastes 2:12-26

Guiding Question
In a world that is marked by enigmas, frustration, and futility, where can a person find “profit”?
Where can human beings find meaning in this finite life “under the sun”?
Finding “Profit” or “Gain”
Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
In the pursuit of wisdom?
Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
In the pursuit of pleasure?
Ecclesiastes 2:12-26
In the Comparison of Wisdom and Folly?
In the Reward for Our Labor?

Wisdom is Better than folly, but… (Ecclesiastes 2:12-16)

Ecclesiastes 2:12–16 NIV
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. 15 Then 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!

There is Reward for our Labor, But… (Ecclesiastes 2:17-23)

Ecclesiastes 2:17–23 NIV
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? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.

Putting Things in Perspective (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26)

Ecclesiastes 2:24–26 NIV
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.

Concluding Thoughts

We should pursue wisdom, because it is so much better than foolishness. But we must realize that death comes to the wise and the fool, and wisdom in and of itself is not ultimately what we are seeking for.
We can find satisfaction and reward in our work and efforts. But we must realize that those benefits are fleeting, and someone else will one day take over the fruit of our labors.
It is worthwhile to pursue wisdom and live a wise life.
It is worthwhile to give our time and efforts to quality work.
But these will not bring us eternal “profit.” These also cannot hold off death, which overtakes us all.
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