The Pursuit Of Pleasure

The Rolling Stones sang that they couldn’t get “no satisfaction” (a no, no, no).  As we look at Ecclesiastes 2 Solomon continues his pursuit of the meaning of life with the pursuit of various pleasures.  Here are three of them:
  1. He pursues amusement and escape (verses 2-3, 8)
  2. He pursues materialism (verses 4-8a)
  3. He pursues sexual pleasures (verse 8b)

He describes his pursuit of these things as seeking “the delights of a man’s heart” (verse 8b).  Yet, at the end of his pursuit of pleasure, he comes to the conclusion that it was meaningless.  He may as well have been “chasing the wind” (verse 11).

We also chase the wind when we pursue these things above all else.  Our nation is filled with pleasure pursuing people.  We fill stadiums and overindulge on beer and bratwurst as we seek to escape through amusement.  We spend billions of dollars a year to escape through entertainment.  We go to movies and concerts and musicals and ball games and theme parks in order to escape the drudgery of our lives for a few hours.
If we’re not pursuing escape entertainment, then we’re pursuing escape through consumerism.  Ever heard of “retail therapy?”  We spend ourselves into deep debt because we like the gadgets and the cars and the clothes and the trinkets and the furniture and anything else we can buy to try to buy our way out of the boredom of everyday life.
When we’re not escaping our lives through amusement or materialism, then we’re pursuing sex.  We live in such a sexually saturated society that it is nearly impossible to get away from lustful temptations.  I can’t watch a football game on a Sunday afternoon without having to explain a little blue pill to my eight year-old.  Billboards with scantily dressed models.  Television shows that get more risque every year.  13 billion dollars spent on pornography.  Affairs of the mind, heart and body plague our marriages.  Why?  Because we’re pursuing pleasure.  But more than the physical pleasure, I believe people pursue the emotional pleasure of someone who’ll accept them and be intimate with them.
We pursue pleasure and when the home team loses or the iPad gets a cracked screen or when that affair takes an ugly turn, we discover what Solomon found out: pleasures never last.  Pleasure only gratifies and it never satisfies.  Real satisfaction is found only in Jesus Christ.  He’ll never stop loving you.  He’ll never stop forgiving your sins.  He’ll never leave you, abandon you nor forsake you.  He never loses.  He never fails.  He never rejects you.  Pursue Christ and forsake the pleasures of this world.  Then you will find true satisfaction.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 (NIV)

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.

I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun.


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