‘See Good for Your Hard Work’
“Look! The best thing that I myself have seen, which is pretty, is that one should eat and drink and see good for all his hard work.”—Eccl. 5:18.
1. As shown at 1 Timothy 1:11, what kind of God is Jehovah, and so what can we rightly conclude that he desires for his intelligent creatures? (Deut. 12:18; 26:11; Ps. 32:11)
THE Most High God Jehovah is supremely happy, taking delight in his perfection and in his works. (1 Tim. 1:11) Moreover, he desires that his intelligent creatures, especially his faithful servants, share in that happiness.
2. How does what we perceive with our senses reveal that Jehovah has ‘furnished us all things richly for our enjoyment’?
2 Why, our very senses are designed to perceive a tremendous variety of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. What pleasure there can be in seeing brilliant sunsets, star-studded skies, winding rivers, placid lakes, cascading waterfalls, palm-lined beaches, lush meadows and snowcapped mountains! How delightful can be the taste of fresh fruits or well-prepared, nourishing meals and fine desserts! There is enjoyment when we feel gentle breezes on a warm day and, even more so, when we feel the touch or embrace of those whom we love. Then, too, is it not pleasurable to listen to babbling brooks, waves crashing against the shore, leaves rustling in the wind, the chirping and singing of birds, and the laughter of happy children? And what delight can be had in taking a walk through a forest or a lovely park, catching the scent of sweet-smelling blossoms! Truly, we must agree with the inspired apostle Paul: God “furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment.”—1 Tim. 6:17.
3. What does the Bible say about God’s view of our enjoying food and drink?
3 It definitely is God’s purpose that we find joy in what he has provided so generously for all mankind. (Acts 14:16, 17) This was the conclusion that wise King Solomon reached after undertaking a careful investigation of earthly affairs. He said: “Look! The best thing that I myself have seen, which is pretty, is that one should eat and drink and see good for all his hard work.”—Eccl. 5:18.
4. How does the example of Jesus Christ demonstrate that it is proper for Christians to enjoy material things?
4 This should certainly be true of Christian servants of Jehovah. The head of the Christian congregation, Jesus Christ, set the perfect example in the enjoyment of material things. By no means was he an ascetic. He accepted invitations to meals and banquets. (Luke 5:29; 7:36; 14:1; 19:5, 6) His very first miracle—turning water into the best of wine—contributed to the enjoyment of a wedding feast. (John 2:1-11) Not appreciating Jesus’ balance in these matters, certain ones falsely charged: “Look! A man gluttonous and given to drinking wine.” (Matt. 11:19) They failed to recognize that Jesus Christ was making proper use of his Father’s bountiful provisions, while at the same time always giving spiritual matters the first place.—Matt. 6:24-34.
TAKE A REALISTIC VIEW OF PLEASURES
5. According to Bible prophecy, among whom in the “last days” would lovers of pleasure be found, and why does this pose a danger for faithful servants of Jehovah?
5 While God’s servants, therefore, rightly find pleasure in food and drink, as well as in various forms of recreation, there are traps to be avoided. According to Bible prophecy, it would be among professed Christians in the “last days” that there would be found “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Tim. 3:4) These persons would begin living for pleasure, putting the pursuit of amusements first in their lives. Faced with the strong influence exerted by pleasure seekers today, Jehovah’s faithful servants must be on guard that this does not begin to affect their thinking.
6, 7. (a) What sound conclusion did King Solomon reach regarding merriment and laughter? (b) Just how are we to understand Solomon’s words?
6 The realistic view of pleasures presented by King Solomon can be most helpful. He tells of his investigation and findings: “I said, even I, in my heart: ‘Do come now, let me try you out with rejoicing. Also, see good.’ And, look! that too was vanity. I said to laughter: ‘Insanity!’ and to rejoicing: ‘What is this doing?’”—Eccl. 2:1, 2.
7 Just what is Solomon here drawing to our attention? His words make it clear that the avid pursuit of amusements cannot bring genuine and lasting happiness. He found that rejoicing or merriment just for its own sake was “vanity,” emptiness. This is so because in itself such “rejoicing” cannot produce anything truly worth while. Granted, amusements and laughter can aid a person to forget his problems temporarily. But the problems will not go away but must still be faced after the period of amusement is over. Furthermore, when a person simply dismisses very serious matters with thoughtless laughter, he is not using good sense and may well irritate others. That is why his laughter can be called “insanity.” As to the “rejoicing” or merriment that might be associated with a habitual joker, it does not really amount to anything of worth. As Solomon put it, “What is this doing?” Yes, what tangible and meaningful results does such merriment produce?
8. In what way can we be helped if we apply the lesson that can be drawn from Solomon’s investigation?
8 If we allow ourselves to be guided by the facts uncovered by Solomon’s investigation, surely we will not permit pleasures to overshadow or crowd out spiritual activities. This calls for being moderate in the number of social gatherings one attends and the amount of time devoted to them. If we were repeatedly to spend a good part of the night at social affairs, how could we possibly be alert the next day for spiritual opportunities, such as congregational meetings or public witnessing? If keeping late hours because of recreation resulted in a person’s being too tired for spiritual activities, is not the pursuit of amusements getting out of control? While we may rightly enjoy wholesome, upbuilding social gatherings and other forms of relaxation, these should not become the big things in our lives. Our greatest satisfaction should continue to be found in a life that centers around faithful service to Jehovah God.
9. Christians who are basically serious may have to guard against what?
9 On the other hand, since rejoicing and laughter do have a proper place among God’s servants, Christians who are basically serious and may have little interest in certain forms of recreation should not look down on or be critical of fellow believers who may enjoy sports, dancing or other amusements in a wholesome way. (Rom. 14:10-12) The Bible counsels: “Do not become righteous overmuch.” (Eccl. 7:16) So, a person should watch that he does not become overly concerned and make issues about strictly personal matters. Being thus overly righteous could lead to his displaying rash zeal and, worse, a merciless, unloving attitude that could result in his losing God’s favor and blessing.
PLEASURES MUST BE CONTROLLED
10. What problems arose in connection with the “love feasts” held by early Christians?
10 It is clear that pleasures must be kept in their place so that serious problems do not arise. This is something that first-century Christians had to contend with in connection with their “love feasts,” which appear to have been banquets where even poor Christians could enjoy good food and upbuilding association. Sadly, persons lacking a spiritual outlook took advantage of these occasions to satisfy selfish passions. That is why the Christian disciple Jude referred to certain ones as “rocks hidden below water in your love feasts.” (Jude 12) Involvement with such wrongly motivated individuals could have led to a person’s experiencing shipwreck to his faith. Similarly, the apostle Peter wrote: “They consider luxurious living in the daytime a pleasure. They are spots and blemishes, indulging with unrestrained delight in their deceptive teachings while feasting together with you.” (2 Pet. 2:13) Such persons had as their sole aim the satisfying of sensual pleasure both day and night. Under the guise of being Christian, they carried on the shameless practices of the world alienated from God. Like spots and blemishes, they tarnished the fine record of faithful Christians, bringing great reproach on God’s holy name. By voicing their “deceptive teachings,” their corrupt views, they apparently succeeded in turning wholesome gatherings of Christians into noisy, boisterous affairs of self-indulgence.
11. What must be kept out of the social gatherings held by God’s people?
11 In this there is a vital lesson for God’s servants today. It is fine when Christians can come together and enjoy fellowship as well as food and drink in moderation. But worldliness must be kept out of these gatherings if they are to be spiritually upbuilding. What is a gathering where alcoholic beverages flow very freely, where music continues to blare into the wee hours of the morning and where people share in wild dancing? It is a worldly party, a carouse, regardless of what name of respectability some persons may try to attach to it.
12. How should Christians feel about unrestrained merrymaking?
12 True Christians have had their fill of such unrestrained merrymaking during the time that they were ignorant of God’s will and purpose. They want no part of an occasion that is characterized by heavy drinking, disorder and sensuality or a gathering that includes any of these facets or that even borders on them. Now that they have been enlightened, they take to heart the Scriptural counsel: “As in the daytime let us walk decently, not in revelries and drunken bouts, not in illicit intercourse and loose conduct, not in strife and jealousy.” (Rom. 13:13) “For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries.”—1 Pet. 4:3.
13, 14. As is evident from Galatians 5:21 and Isaiah 5:11, 12, why are pleasure seekers in grave danger?
13 This is a very serious matter. Individuals who engage in revelries or carouses are mentioned in the Scriptures among those who “will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (Gal. 5:21) Hence, persons who begin to live solely for pleasure are in grave danger. This is forcefully emphasized in connection with certain Israelites in the time of Isaiah. Wine would flow very freely at their feasts. As the night progressed the revelers would become loud and boisterous. Their noisy feasting would be accompanied by sensual music designed to arouse the passions. Therefore, through his prophet Isaiah, Jehovah directed these words to them: “Woe to those who are getting up early in the morning that they may seek just intoxicating liquor, who are lingering till late in the evening darkness so that wine itself inflames them! And there must prove to be harp and stringed instrument, tambourine and flute, and wine at their feasts; but the activity of Jehovah they do not look at, and the work of his hands they have not seen.”—Isa. 5:11, 12.
14 Rightly, woe or calamity would befall these pleasure seekers. They gave no thought to pleasing the Creator. Their sole objective was to satisfy their fleshly desires right from the start of the day. It is no different today. Persons who give themselves over to unrestrained reveling are giving no consideration to the works of Jehovah. How could anyone reflect on Jehovah’s grand activities to the sound of sensual music while at the same time eating and drinking to excess? As Isaiah describes it, during the period of their self-indulgence, the pleasure seekers act as if there were no evidence testifying to the existence and activities of the Most High. Therefore, just as in the prophet’s time, unrepentant revelers stand disapproved before Jehovah God.
15. How did Jesus warn of the danger of getting involved in living for pleasure?
15 It is noteworthy that Jesus Christ alerted his disciples to the grave danger of becoming pleasure seekers, commanding: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking.” (Luke 21:34) Overindulgence in food and drink may weigh down the heart with feelings of guilt and crowd out any desire for spiritual things. As a result, a person may become spiritually drowsy, blind to the responsibilities that come with being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Were he to continue in that state, the coming of the Son of God in the capacity of executioner of divine vengeance would overtake him as a “snare.” Jesus warned: “It will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:35, 36) Certainly, the “last days” are no time for anyone to ignore these words and slip into worldly practices at social gatherings.
HOW TO PREVENT PROBLEMS
16. Are all members of the Christian congregation necessarily good companions?
16 How can one prevent social affairs from becoming worldly and, hence, spiritually damaging and divinely disapproved? Consideration must be given that those invited will not bring in an unwholesome influence. The apostle Paul, in his letter to Timothy, pointed out that not all members of the Christian congregation are necessarily desirable companions. He wrote: “Now in a large house there are vessels not only of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for an honorable purpose but others for a purpose lacking honor. If, therefore, anyone keeps clear of the latter ones, he will be a vessel for an honorable purpose, sanctified, useful to his owner, prepared for every good work. So, flee from the desires incidental to youth, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.”—2 Tim. 2:20-22.
17. With whom in the congregation should Christians not associate in a social way, and why? (2 Thess. 3:6-15)
17 Accordingly, Christians have the responsibility to keep clear of those whose conduct is open to serious question. They certainly are under no obligation to invite to their social gatherings persons who are known to be unbridled in their speech or who are otherwise given to excesses. In fact, such persons would not be helped by being invited. Instead of being encouraged to make needed changes, they might well conclude that their unhealthful words and actions are acceptable to the Christian congregation.
18. (a) What should guide God’s servants in all their activity? (b) What factors usually contribute to an upbuilding gathering of Christians?
18 At any time that God’s servants enjoy companionship with one another, they should keep in mind the Bible’s admonition: “Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.” (1 Cor. 10:31) We can ask ourselves the question, Is the occasion really bringing praise to Jehovah God? Usually upbuilding association can be enjoyed by all when social get-togethers are kept to a reasonable size, when care is exercised regarding who is invited and the Christian host conscientiously assumes full responsibility for what takes place. If, for example, a whole congregation enjoys a picnic together, elders would certainly want to use their influence for good. Of course, when social gatherings draw people indiscriminately from beyond the congregation, it is difficult, if not impossible, for elders to exercise healthful control of the group. Any who arrange for a social gathering should therefore keep this in mind and avoid circumstances that lend themselves to a lack of proper control and direction.
19. In connection with social gatherings, what principles can we draw from Luke 14:13, 14 and Matthew 6:3?
19 A Christian should also keep in mind the importance of not always inviting just a certain select few to share with him the fruitage of his labor. There may be other fellow believers who would greatly appreciate and benefit from wholesome association—for example, the aged and widows. Jesus Christ recommended: “When you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you.” (Luke 14:13, 14) It could hardly be in harmony with this recommendation for a person to arrange such lavish affairs as to require those invited to pay a fee to defray expenses and that may even result in profit for himself as the host. Furthermore, too large an affair can focus undue attention on the one arranging for it, and this would be contrary to the spirit of Jesus’ counsel ‘not to let your left hand know what your right is doing.’—Matt. 6:3.
20. What good can result from applying Bible principles at social gatherings? (2 Pet. 3:11-14)
20 Truly when Scriptural counsel is followed, servants of Jehovah God can find real delight in the fruitage of their work and in having others share in their joy. They will remain spiritually awake, shunning all worldliness. Their social gatherings can then bring glory to the happy God Jehovah and move sincere observers to say: “God is really among you.” (1 Cor. 14:25) Moreover, they will continue to stand as approved before God and Christ, eagerly looking forward to the time when “the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces” and “make for all the peoples . . . a banquet of well-oiled dishes”—for their balanced enjoyment along with all other loving provisions in God’s creation.—Isa. 25:6-8.
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Will unrestrained merrymaking build up?
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Or should you, rather, seek wholesome family entertainment?