This morning, as a way to lead us into a time of confession, I want to look again at the critic’s voice in the book of Ecclesiastes. We’ve been walking through this book the past several weeks as the critic (the person who is doing the talking in the book) is struggling to find meaning in life. He has struggled to understand why anything matters — his work, his education, time in general. None of it seems to satisfy the deep longing in his heart for meaning and significance. And so, in Chapter 2, he gives pleasure a try. That’s Ecclesiastes 2, verse 1,
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” [He’s saying: Pamper yo’ self! or “treat yourself” or whatever it is.]
And so he went for it. He drank the best wine, built the best houses, planted the best vineyards and gardens. He even designed his own park system that included every kind of fruit tree there is. He built swimming pools and spas, and had a wait staff of hundreds to handle all the day-to-day tasks. He had his own zoo with all kinds of animals. He had gold and silver and the most unique treasures in the entire world. He had the best musicians and singers in the world, and they would put on house concerts for him whenever he wanted them. And on top of all this, he surrounded himself with women from all over the earth. In verse 10 he says, “I kept from my heart no pleasure.” So that’s what I mean he went for it.
He had all the money he would ever need to enjoy all the things he’d ever want.
And he says in verse 11 that when he stepped back and considered it all — when he thought about all the pleasures he had afforded himself — he said it “all was hevel [vanity] and striving after wind.”
And so we — as the readers of this book, if we apply the wisdom that this book is meant to foster in us — we’re are supposed to take his word for it.
All the pleasure in all the world will not satisfy the craving for pleasure in your soul. Because the craving in your soul is not a craving for cheap thrills or fleeting fun; it’s a craving for a pleasure “infinitely great and beautiful and valuable and satisfying.”
The craving for pleasure at the center of your person is a craving for God and the eternal joy found only in him. And I think you know that — which reminds us of our need to confess our sins.
Prayer of Confession
Father in heaven, if we’re honest, we know that all the pleasures of this world are not going to make us truly happy — not the kind of happiness we’re actually looking for. We confess that our souls are growling with hunger. Our appetite is as big as eternity, and when we look to the fleeting pleasures of this world to satisfy us, we are hoping in peanuts. We are trusting in trifles, and as silly as this might be for us, it is a great sin against you, and for that, we repent.
Forgive us, please, Father, for our unbelief. Forgive us, please, Father for our idolatry. Forgive us, please, Father, for our obstinance to love — for how our unfulfilled desire for happiness leads us down one rabbit trail after another, and for how, as we continue to chase our happiness down these dead-end road, we become even more self-consumed such that we forsake our neighbors and the command you’ve given us to love them. We are broken, Father. We are sinners, and we ask for your mercy now, even as we confess our individual sins to you in silence.
Now, Father, we ask that your strength overcome our weakness, that your light would overcome our darkness, that your realness would overcome our doubts. We remember again that the gospel anthem rings true: we are not dead, but alive; we are not lost, but found; we are not your enemies, but we are your sons and daughters — all because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. In his name we pray, Amen.