When you first see the word, you may wonder if you will remember how to spell it. When you try to read it, you may think you will mispronounce it. The word is Ecclesiastes, and it is one of the Wisdom books of the Old Testament.
Ecclesiastes is a record of Solomon’s attempt to find the meaning of life. When you get to the last chapter of the book, Solomon makes a summary statement: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
There are some places in this book where you will find a phrase is repeated several times. The fourth chapter is a good example:
- 4:1: “the oppression that is done under the sun”
- 4:3: “the evil work that is done under the sun”
- 4:7: “I saw vanity under the sun”
The three repeated words, “under the sun,” reveal the key to Solomon’s frustration. His attempt to find meaning in life was difficult. “Under the sun” places the emphasis on a horizontal perspective at the expense of the vertical dimension.
What Solomon initially failed to grasp, was firmly gripped by Paul. Notice how he accentuates the vertical perspective of the Christian life: “Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3).”
Paul’s use of the word “above” calls attention to the vertical perspective and contrasts it to the “things on earth,” or the horizontal realm. Which one of these orientations guides you?
The answer to this question is found in what you wear: What have you put off and what have you put on?
- Paul said you should, “Put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds.
- Once you have put off the horizontal, you are ready to put on the vertical: “Put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created you.”
There were times when I was a kid that I would frustrate my parents and they would ask: “What in the world do you think you’re doing?” That’s not a question you need to answer; however, you might think about this: How are you living under the sun, and what have you put off and put on?