Weekly Devotionals – 22 April 2024

One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

We live in a world of advertising, with commercials everywhere. When listening to the radio or watching shows on TV, we are constantly interrupted by commercials telling us to get, grab and hoard. If we don’t live with contentment, we will tend to chase after the wind—a metaphor for pursuing things that are ultimately unattainable or meaningless.
Living a whole and meaningful life requires us to handle life realistically. We need to learn to cut our coat according to our size. We let our plans and spending be determined by our available resources and capacities. One practical approach to meaningful and effective living is to be content with what we have, as the preacher proposes in Ecclesiastes 4:6.
Although the ability to work is a gift from God, our fallen nature causes us to distort it. People are often motivated by selfish desires to get ahead of others, whether in wealth, looks or abilities. This usually leads them to spend extravagantly, such as buying luxury items they don’t need, and incur debt needlessly, such as taking out loans for non-essential purchases. As believers, we are exhorted to be prudent and not strive after the wind.
In Ecclesiastes 4:4, the preacher describes people who work hard out of envy, wanting to keep up with their neighbours. Being dissatisfied with what one does not have often leads to envy, causing a person to strive harder and work, neglecting the more important matters of their life, such as spending time with family, pursuing personal growth or contributing to their community. This constant striving, born out of envy, is a futile pursuit that can lead to a life of unfulfilment.
Ecclesiastes 4:5 shows another extreme in people; while some give themselves to envy and strife, others turn to idleness. We are told, “The fool folds his hands and eats his flesh.” While one person can be consumed by work, another can be tempted to idle.
Idleness, as depicted in Ecclesiastes 4:5, is not merely a state of unproductivity, but a dangerous pitfall that can lead to self-destruction. It’s a state of mind and being that can corrode our mental and spiritual well-being. Understanding this, we can fortify ourselves against idleness by recognising its inherent futility.
So, in verse 6, we are advised to be contented but not idle. It says, “Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and striving after the wind.” Here, we see a balance. Contented people are peaceful and do not need to prove they are better than others. Such people do not strive needlessly. They work hard enough to get what they need and learn to accept their God-given portion. This contentment brings a profound sense of calm and tranquillity, a respite from the constant chase after more.
Jesus’ advice in the Gospel is that in all our getting, we should get a complete and abundant life in Him. Remember Paul’s words: godliness with contentment is a significant gain. We do not need many things in life; we need the Lord. Psalm 23 tells us that we shall not be in lack when the Lord is our shepherd. Let us modify the first line of Psalm 23 in a sanctified way for our benefit. Instead of seeing the first line of Psalm 23 as “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” see it this way: “The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I need.” When this occurs, He will lead us into the richness of His unlimited resources and a wonderful, vibrant life. In Him, we can have a life without lack, without fear, reinforcing our reliance on Him.

Monday – 1 Timothy 6:6
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
Tuesday – Psalm 17:15
As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.

Wednesday – Psalm 107:9  
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.
Thursday – Proverbs 30:15
The leech has two daughters, “Give,” “Give.” There are three things that will not be satisfied, four that will not say, “Enough”:
Friday – Joel 2:26
You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame.
Saturday – John 6:51
I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
Sunday – Matthew 5:6
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

All scriptures are quoted from the New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995).
By Pastor Clarence Goh