What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?Ecclesiastes chapter 1, verse 3; from the New Living Translations (NLT)
Sitting on my front porch this morning, I had a memory about one of our grandkids, Ethan. He’s a senior in high school now and has set his sights on being an Air Force pilot. The memory I had though was when he was about 3. We were in the garage when he pointed at something and asked, “What’s that, Grampa?” Then we proceeded around all 4 corners of the garage with the same question. When we finished going around, he started it all over again. “What’s that, Grampa?” And when I had to leave, Ethan took his Grammaw by the hands and asked: “What that, Grammaw?”
What’s my point? It’s about how we as human beings learn things. We can learn by listening. We can learn by observing. We can learn by reading. But one of the most effective ways we learn is by asking questions. The Good Book is full of illustrations of men and women, young and old, rich and poor of people trying to learn things by asking questions; to others and most importantly, by asking God. Even the wisest man to ever live also asked questions. (See the above verse)
Questions are a great way to learn. But.. . .BUT if we ask the wrong questions–well that’s what I want to talk about this morning with you. Wrong questions will give us information–but they won’t give us the wisdom we need to navigate this life on this third rock from the sun. In the search for life, people are asking the wrong questions. Thus, they are not getting the information they really are needing. Here are some examples.
1. How can I find happiness?
In other words, What will make me happy? Sounds like a good question. But that’s all it is–it sounds like a good question but it doesn’t produce what the heart is looking for. Don’t think for a moment that I am a gloomy Gus. It’s great to be happy. But happiness doesn’t last. Happiness is rooted in the emotions and desires; not that emotions or desires are a bad thing in and of themselves. It’s what we do with those emotions and desires that are either good or evil. Sin works within our emotions and desires. And the purpose of Sin is to crush and to kill us. Since happiness is rooted to the fallen part of us, it directs us to the very things that will ultimately make us unhappy. The real question that needs to be asked is this: How Can I Find Joy? Where happiness is tethered to our physical circumstances, Joy is anchored to our relationship with God. And there are times and situations where we have to give up what WE want for what God wants in order to find Joy.
2. WHAT DOES THE GOVERNMENT OWE ME?
Somehow, these “Woke” (but really asleep) Folks somehow think that the government owes them certain things. And if the government doesn’t give it to them, then they won’t ever have it. So they demand things from the government all in an attempt to be a “whole” person. They tend to see government as this vending machine that doesn’t require money from us. Push a button and then dispense what we want. And when it can’t, then throw a temper tantrum. For those who are asking this question, then listen to this quote and it’s the question we need to ask: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?” This is from President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration address. Government doesn’t owe you one red cent. I call your attention to this statement:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
Notice it says “We the people”, not “We the government”! Government isn’t the answer to finding wisdom that leads to real life. It cannot give you what it is incapable of producing. It’s like asking a persimmon tree to produce oranges. It just ain’t gonna happen! To be an effective and just nation, then we must do those things and act in that way which adds to this nation, and not take away.
3. WHAT DOES THE CHURCH OWE ME?
Many believe the church owes them something because. . .well because they are there. There are those who want the church to make them feel comfortable. There are those who think the church exists for their whims and whines. And there are those who think the church owes them–not just acceptance of their lifestyle–but to endorse and to bless them. In other words, the church is to be the producer and they are to be the consumers. But long before the word “church” even existed, there was another word to describe what was happening. That word is Koinonia. In simplest of terms, it’s the shared life. We all have a part in it and something to do–even produce in this concept called church. It’s not about what the church produces–rather it is about what WE produce in this life of grace. For each other, and for the rest of the world. The question that needs to be asked and answered is: What Do I Owe The Body of Christ? We call those membership vows. Though there are many other wrong questions, allow me to share one more.
4. WHAT DOES LIFE OWE ME?
We call a certain generation the The Entitlement Generation. I have been noticing and therefore must conclude that the sense of entitlement has nothing to do with which years a person was born in. Those living with that horrid sense of entitlement can be found in Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Z, and Gen Alpha. They are walking around thinking, acting, and believing that simply because they exist--existence exists for them! Life owes them a fine house, car, prestige, appreciation, power–you name it! The question that should be asked is this: How can I add value to life–mine and that of others? Taking and taking doesn’t add value. It only takes away. Life is indeed like a checking account. You can make withdrawals, but only what you have deposited in it. You withdraw more than that–and it becomes a debt you owe. And if you don’t take care of that debt–then it comes a crime.
Our problems as a culture, a nation, and the world are deep and powerful. But we don’t have to live in the messiness that is in existence now. All we have to do is ask the right questions, then listen for God to give us the answer. Wrong questions produce wrong outcomes. But the right questions will lead us to the right answers. And those answers will give us the wisdom to know what to do and how to do it.