pleasure

Solomon

If my vote counted, I would say that he is one of the most prolific, yet practical writers in all of Scripture. His writings don’t really tell stories, but rather it’s as if he is having a heart to heart with his readers, well except for his books of songs which is more like him sharing the love letters between him and his lover. Anyhow, reading through the book of Ecclesiastes again, I don’t see as much of a paradox as I used to, but rather I see him coming for my life like no other book has, which is part of the reason I understand his quite large number of lady friends and acquaintances, but back to the matter at hand. I mean he really makes you question like everything about you life, even the people in it.

Really listening the heart of Solomon, we see how vastly different his philosophy of life is compared to the world’s philosophy today of humanism and happiness. Now, not that Solomon discredits that type of thinking, but he warns us about it. If pleasure and happiness and money are all we are after in this life, our life will count for nothing; it’s vain; it’s meaningless. Furthermore, with that type of life, there can never be any satisfaction, and if you look around, he was all the way right. What we see today are people indulging in what they find pleasure, living for self, and though they get a temporary smile, they are still left empty and broken and at some point come face to face with consequences they never imagined and a life ruined, and die and wake up in Hell because they didn’t recognize their need for a savior or make it to Heaven sad that they didn’t do more.

On the flip side, living for God and following His commands as Solomon described, should make up the most satisfying and invigorating life. Following Christ is not boring and mundane, because if you know His character, He is all about the element of surprise and astonishment, causing you to take those giant leaps of faith often times blindly, step out of your comfort zone, bring you into a place to face your fears, constantly molding, shaking, pressing, purging, breaking, and building you to be all He meant for you to be, and above all else develop a personal and ever-growing, ever-changing, deepening relationship with the One who created the universes with His very word and died to spend an eternity with you.

The treasure that the world seeks can in no way ever measure to what a life in the Lord has to offer and Solomon over time came to understand this. I mean after all He was stupid rich, indulged in any pleasure he desired, and literally had the world at his feet, but still found himself miserable, and one of his realizations was that things will come and go, everything has a season, but God is the only thing constant in life. Nevertheless, life should be an adventure with the people put in place by God to venture with and alongside of you as you do whatever it is that brings your soul satisfaction, not just work that provides a paycheck, but rather a passion or calling to the person fearfully and wonderfully formed by the Creator in your mother’s womb that gives you a life that money cannot buy, discovering and using the strengths and gifts divinely given to you.

So, live a life that means something for eternity, and if you have the opportunity to splurge or fulfill nonsense pleasures in the process, go for the gold, if not, Heaven’s glory will welcome you when your number is called. But still, it makes me think of a verse in Psalms and one in Matthew, reminding us to delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart, and always to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. Follow Solomon’s candid approach in sharing what he learned, following the Lord and keeping His commandments, and get ready for the time of your life. Be you for eternity’s purpose.

 

Ephialtes

300

So, if you know me, you that one of my absolutely favorite movies of all times, though it is rated R, is 300. If you have seen it, I don’t need to explain why; if you haven’t seen it, I won’t explain, just rent it and you will understand the greatness of this movie. There are amazing and dynamic characters and so many great one-liners, and truth be told, I considered it before, but not until I last watched it that I finally was able to put thoughts together to write.

With all that being said, it is one specific character that caught my attention, whose story reflects what I attempt to share as I write. Ephialtes. He was a deformed Spartan whose hearts desire was to fight like his father, however when he approached King Leonidas, Leonidas respectfully denied, yet gave him another option to aid in the battle for freedom, which Ephialtes did not like. Thus, he betrayed his allegiance and long story short went to the enemy’s camp, Xerxes, god-king of Persia, to get the “honor” he wanted.

It made me think, so often we have in mind what we want to do solely on the culture around us; we want to fit in. However, God tells us no, we get upset, frustrated, and tend to do stupid things. However, like Leonidas, God will tell us or show us where how He can best use us, highlighting our strengths, but because sometimes it is too “small of a task” we take things into our own hands, we don’t like the background, we want to be in the front. The problem is that these “big tasks” can’t function, let alone succeed without those behind the scenes, those bandaging the wounded and giving them water or collecting dead bodies. Just like a body, every enzyme not seen with the naked eye is significant, and without it we would falter gravely. Ephialtes was blinded to this by his pride. As a result, he did the worse possible thing.

He went to Xerxes, asking for the same thing as Leonidas, and like Satan, Xerxes played to his pleasures and stroked his ego, and all he had to do was kneel, the exact same way that Devil tempted Jesus. This kneeling was not out of reverence or love, but of greed, arrogance, and manipulation. The Devil comes the same way, as an angel of light, appealing to our desires and pride, but it is not in God’s will or timing, thus we need to run far from it. Like Xerxes, the only thing Satan has in mind is destruction, giving in to those temptations is what damages our relationship with God, families, reputation, honor, and testimony. The problem is that we want when we want it how we want it.

If you look back in the conversation Ephialtes had with King Leonidas, you notice that he asked him to stand. That is so profound to me, because God has called us to stand, to be strong in Him and confident to face whatever Hell has to throw at us, trusting in His power and love, His mercy and grace, His provision and protection. Kneeling before Him and worship is a given, but it’s a choice we make on our own; those under Leonidas’ rule gladly knelt before him out of respect and a genuine love for him, Xerxes on the other hand, if not coerced, they just did so out of duty and to keep “getting.” Like the Devil, Xerxes just gave him what he wanted so he could get what he wanted, not because he actually cared, but he wanted to destroy the other kingdom.

So many get caught in that web and we miss the great opportunity that God has for us in serving Him in a way that brings out the best in us; we want someone else’s gift and hinder God from using us and Him shining through us. Like God sees in us, Leonidas saw the best in Ephialtes and catered toward his strength; like Satan does to us, Xerxes saw the worse in Ephialtes and played to his weakness. It wasn’t until he sees Leonidas again face-to-face that he realizes how completely wrong he was, just through Leonidas’ compassion; he still blessed Leonidas. In the same way whenever we come back to the loving arms of our King, His arms are open and He still desires to bless us, even though it was our betrayal that lead Him to a glorious death on the as was Leonidas. As well, pleasure and satisfaction only lasts temporarily when Satan gives it to you, operating outside of purpose and your function, and the aftermath is destruction, brokenness, emptiness, ineffectiveness, and guilt.

Being you for a purpose is accepting and embracing the strengths God has given you, not being prideful or jealous of other people’s gifts. God already knows how He can and wants to use you, and in whatever way, big or small, it will bring glory and you will shine in your differences, so don’t try to blend in; God doesn’t like to use blenders. God wants the best for us, and He truly cares and sees the best in us, even when we don’t; He knows how we can be most effective for His kingdom. He does not try to manipulate us or have impure motives. Trust the wisdom and knowledge of God, don’t do as Ephialtes did and compromise who you are and minimize who you were created to be because things don’t go your way and or God doesn’t do as you wanted Him to. Our king, like Leonidas, has been doing this for a while and has a pretty good track record, so I think He knows what He is doing. Just trust His judgment.

Be you for a purpose, not only yours, but other people’s freedom depends on it.