(all of today’s “Ecclesiastes” images found on the Internet)
- the power or act of seeing into a situation, penetration
- the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively
- the ability to have a clear, deep, and sometimes sudden understanding of a complicated problem or situation
Synonyms – discernment, perception, sagacity, sapience, wisdom
Any single one of us, alone, can read, pray, ponder, struggle over, or wrestle with a given text or concept. Sometimes maybe we have a kind of epiphany or something we see or hear will resonate. But when we come together, a group of a dozen or so men sitting around a table – Bibles in hand and the messiness of day-to-day life all over us – well, that is a different matter. Now the Holy Spirit has a little more to work with.
But when we come together, a group of a dozen or so men sitting around a table – Bibles in hand and the messiness of day-to-day life all over us – well, that is a different matter. Now the Holy Spirit has a little more to work with.
Wednesday evening it was Ecclesiastes 5. Ecclesiastes and a group that includes a unique combination of scientists, IT gurus, entrepreneurs, educators, engineers, and a writer. We did our pre-class reading, we added some independent research, we prayed, we opened the scriptures, we opened our hearts… and then God stirred it all together.
There are two particular examples of insight I’d like to share. Both so disarmingly simple you may not realize how beautifully present God was in those moments.
We talked about how we approach God, and why it is important to listen rather than monopolize with our own monologue.
“Watch your steps when you go to God’s house. It’s more acceptable to listen… Don’t be quick with your mouth or say anything hastily before God, because God is in heaven, but you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few.” – verse 1-2
“God speaks so quietly,” David said. “And we’re making so much noise we miss what he says.”
Wow. We’d been talking about this for several minutes and then my friend just nailed it. I think we all know why we don’t listen, can’t listen, won’t listen. We might just hear some truth, and then where would we be?
Later, deep in conversation about money (see Tuesday’s post – the Equation for Contentment), we kept circling back to this pericope:
Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless. – verse 10
“The text doesn’t say that wealth is unsatisfying,” I observed. “The text points out that it is the person who loves wealth who is never satisfied.”
There was a short silence while that seeped into our consciousness.
“But there is a scenario,” I continued, “where money/wealth really can make us happy and contented, and where wealth is very meaningful. When we don’t love wealth but instead we love God with all our heart, mind, and strength – and when we love our neighbor as ourselves. In that scenario being generous with our wealth becomes extremely meaningful, and satisfying, and beautiful.”
All of a sudden wealth has become something we absolutely enjoy, because now money is a resource that we put at the service of God and of God’s initiatives of love.
money is a resource that we put at the service of God and of God’s initiatives of love.
Insight! When we approach God humbly, asking that the Holy Spirit teach us both through one-another and via supernatural “quickening” then the scriptures speak into our lives and challenge us to be more faithful disciples.
Small group ministry for men. Doing life together. Learning together. Putting love into action. It’s good stuff! – DEREK