May 4, 2014
Full Mouths, Empty Souls
All the labor of man is for his mouth, And yet the soul is not satisfied
What is most important to most people is the satisfaction of their worldly desires. Even if they acknowledge that there are some spiritual realities over and beyond the concerns of this world, most people spend most of their time trying to satisfy the latter rather than the former. Basically, as the writer of Ecclesiastes observed, "the labor of man is for his mouth." And maybe we wouldn't put it so strongly, but when Paul described some by saying that their "god is their belly" (Philippians 3:19), he might easily have been commenting on our own culture.
And yet, for all our effort, we end up being distinctly unsatisfied. No matter what we manage to enjoy, the question still seems to be: Is that all there is? So frankly, what should be our attitude?
First, we need to admit the transitory nature of all temporal pleasures and possessions. Yes, it's right to enjoy what God has created in this world, but we shouldn't expect more from this enjoyment than it was intended to deliver. We may "hold" these things, as long as we're willing to let go of them at any moment.
Second, we need to spend less time pursuing these things and more time seeking God. With our words we may say that God is our most pressing priority, but if our schedule books show that on most days we spend very little time on that pursuit, who are we fooling? Where our heart is, there our "To Do" list will be also.
Ultimately, we can't "get" anything more out of our existence than what we "want." And so we need to be careful what we want. Eventually, all of our alternatives come down to two choices: (1) We can live for no higher fulfillment than our worldly desires, and having gotten them, find ourselves still empty inside, or (2) we can hunger and thirst for righteousness and find ourselves "filled" where it counts the most (Matthew 5:6). To the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus said, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:13,14). It's worth asking whether we really believe that or not.
"Naught but God can satisfy the soul."
. . . Philip James Bailey