“I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
On Sunday a friend of mine contrasted this passage with the pastor’s sermon based on Philippians 3:13-14.
“One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. “
At this time of the year many of us join in the evaluation of our lives. Success in career, knowledge, wisdom, relationships….pick your poison. It’s all empty. It’s all “chasing after the wind” according to Solomon.
In his writings Paul would agree with the writer of Ecclesiastes with one exception. In the third chapter of Philippians, Paul discounts his own status as a member of the religious sect, his education, and his rich heritage. He agrees that it is all “chasing of the wind” although he uses a more colorful descriptor when he describes everything as “rubbish.”
When he used the word rubbish it was more than just a malodorous garbage can. Picture the city dump, but this is where Paul’s view differs from that of Solomon.
Philippians 3: 7-11
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Paul had a goal. He lived his life with purpose. He was not running haphazardly through life. He did not box as one beating the air (1 Corinthians 9:26).
What was the goal? In those few verses Paul makes it clear. His only goal is Christ. He wasn’t chasing after the meaningless.
What about me? Am I running on a treadmill or do I see the finish line?