God Works Through Imperfect Things: Solomon and Ecclesiastes

Posted: February 28, 2022 in Uncategorized

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming creative ministry course. In it I speak to how many times people withhold their creations for fear that they are in some way imperfect. As I was working through this point, I thought of Solomon and an online conversation I had with someone on Ecclesiastes. Here’s what came out.

Consider the book of Ecclesiastes. A friend recently asked for an explanation of the book because it didn’t seem to make sense to him. I understood how he could arrive at that conclusion. After all, the books is filled largely with the author speaking about some pretty good and important things and calling them meaningless. The author of the book Is (at least most people agree) King Solomon. How could it be that this book, which often feels pretty hopeless, could be written by one of the most gifted and materially blessed people in the history of the world? My oversimplified explanation stated that Solomon started out to be among the best and the brightest—a man who when offered anything he wanted, by God, asked for Wisdom. God was so impressed by his request that He not only blessed Solomon with wisdom but also included everything else that Solomon had not asked for, wisdom, wealth, peace in his lifetime and the privilege of building God’s temple. He needed to do only one thing, stick with God. 

We have three books written by Solomon and all three are from the part of the Bible called Wisdom Literature. He starts off with the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) a beautiful poem espousing the beauty of love. Then we get to what one might call his master work (along with several others, Solomon being the primary author), the book of Proverbs, in which Solomon shares countless timeless truths and words to live by. Somewhere between this book and his final book Ecclesiastes something happened. The most blessed man possibly ever, began to make treaties with the nations around Him, These treaties often came with wives, to the point where Solomon is said to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines—basically a thousand wives.  This was something he was not supposed to do and eventually Solomon was led away from the Lord. This then is the point. Apart from God, you can have everything the world has to offer and it will all end up feeling meaningless, like chasing after the wind. It all leads Solomon to come to the conclusion, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV) 

Consider this. Solomon was immensely blessed by God. In response, he ended up doing the one thing God didn’t want him to do and in the process, Solomon took a massive fall, one that caused him to lose half the Kingdom and divided the nation of Israel. Yet in the process, God taught us all a very important lesson. Everything is meaningless without God and the best way to live our lives is in following and obeying God. Here it becomes clear, God can work through anything and anyone, and the creation He has called you to create does not need to be perfect. When we offer Him our best, He can use it to do exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine. So instead of allowing our perfectionism, or the fear of not being good enough to keep us from delivering what God has called us to do, it is likely far better to offer Him our best and trust Him to use it. After all, no one knows your level of ability better than God and He has called you to do whatever it is you are called to do.

Consider the verse I listed at the beginning of this chapter, once again from the book of Ecclesiastes. “Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 This passage has been interpreted in a number of ways, being thought to speak on things from generosity to international trade. I think it relates at least in the part to the way we use our gifts. As GotQuestions.org states, when includes with the verse that follows, Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.” “The passage as a whole communicates the principle of doing as much good as you can, knowing two things: the results are in God’s hands, and you don’t know when you yourself will be in need of someone else’s generosity.” When we create what we have been called and created to create, and we place those creations in God’s hands, He can do more with it than we might imagine. That’s really the point. When God calls us to create, He knows full well what we are capable of creating, and He knows the outcome to come from what He has called us to do. His expectation is not perfection. He knows on our own, we are incapable of that. Rather His expectation is faithfulness. Faithfulness demands that we take what He has given to us, do what He says and put it out for the world to see, trusting the Lord with the return. 

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