sleep

Good Intentions and No Ambition

An old English proverb says the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Intentions are like ambitions without action. Unless there is follow-through, intentions become rash commitments or poorly conceived plans.

A common example is the New Year's resolution that sounds good and useful but isn't carried out or sustained. Intentions can be rash—not thought through carefully or without consideration of possible consequences.

Is It All Good?

The popular phrase, "It's all good," is used way too much. It's an expression that covers a multitude of situations. It's meaningless without context and often depends on a person's point of view on life in general.

King Solomon used a phrase throughout the book of Ecclesiastes that conveys the opposite—"It's useless...!" (Eccl 1:1 NCV). A more current way to say it is, "It's a waste of time!"

My Guardian

God's design for the parent-child relationship is remarkable. It's a picture and model of God's original design for the relationship between Him and humanity.

Working with abandoned babies and children gave my wife and I a much greater appreciation of this. We saw the longing in every child to belong to their own family. This is something no institution, no matter how well run, could ever fulfill.

Curse or Contentment?

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I grew up in a beautiful area along the Pacific Coast of Southern California. I lived in an area of immense wealth, even though our family was not wealthy. We rented, while my friend's families owned their homes.

If I wanted what my friends had, I worked for it. I valued what I had even though it was much less than what my friends enjoyed.

I've lived overseas in SE Asia and seen the great disparity between the "haves and have-nots." It's a big gap. And yet, I've seen greater contentment and happiness among the poor than among the wealthy.

This isn't to say the poor don't long for a life of ease and wealth. They do. And yet, their lives are often filled with more peace and contentment than those they envy. It's ironic.

Scripture

Whoever loves money will never have enough money; Whoever loves wealth will not be satisfied with it. This is also useless. The more wealth people have, the more friends they have to help spend it. So what do people really gain? They gain nothing except to look at their riches. [vss 10-11]

Those who work hard sleep in peace; it is not important if they eat little or much. But rich people worry about their wealth and cannot sleep. I have seen real misery here on earth: Money saved is a curse to its owners. They lose it all in a bad deal and have nothing to give to their children. [vss 12-14]

People come into this world with nothing, and when they die they leave with nothing. In spite of all their hard work, they leave just as they came. This, too, is real misery: They leave just as they came. So what do they gain from chasing the wind? All they get are days full of sadness and sorrow, and they end up sick, defeated, and angry. [vss 15-17]

I have seen what is best for people here on earth. They should eat and drink and enjoy their work, because the life God has given them on earth is short. God gives some people the ability to enjoy the wealth and property he gives them, as well as the ability to accept their state in life and enjoy their work. They do not worry about how short life is, because God keeps them busy with what they love to do. [vss 18-20]

(Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 NCV) [Context– Ecclesiastes 5]

Key phrase— Those who work hard sleep in peace...But rich people worry about their wealth and cannot sleep.

[bctt tweet="Those who work hard sleep in peace...But rich people worry about their wealth and cannot sleep."]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scripture text above as you answer the following questions—

What are two or three specific things said about those who have and love wealth?

Who seems to enjoy rest and sleep more—those with much or those with little? Why?

What is the status of all people at birth and death? What is the pursuit of wealth likened to?

What seems to be the key to enjoying life regardless of their status in this life?

Reflection...

Americans enjoy a high standard of life, especially compared to much of the world. Even our poor, especially those on government assistance, enjoy a higher standard of living compared to most of the world's population.

And yet, with all we possess and have access to, some very simple things seem elusive. Americans spend millions, maybe billions, on supplements and drugs to help them sleep, calm their nerves, and lift their spirit.

Sleeplessness, anxiety and depression are plague-like conditions for millions. Why? As a nation, we seem unable to attain satisfaction or contentment. Perhaps we need to stop chasing after what we don't have, and enjoy what we do have, along with enjoying what we do in daily life.

As mentioned in Ecclesiastes, like a dog who chases its tail, we need to stop "chasing the wind."

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions—

What in particular causes you to lose sleep? Do you realize what causes you anxiety or worry?

When was the last time you had a good night sleep? Do you experience more inner peace or stress?

Have you ever gotten something you longed for only to be disappointed with it?

How do you escape or deal with the cares and desires of your life? Is it in a healthy or unhealthy way?

A Safe Way and Sweet Sleep

Photo credit: lightstock.com
Photo credit: lightstock.com

Wisdom, godly wisdom, is not just an understanding of truth. It is the fruit of a right relationship with God.

A relationship with God is not right because of moral goodness, but an honest relationship. A relationship of trust.

When a genuine relationship of trust exists between a person and God—the One, True and Living God—there are great benefits.

Scripture

By Wisdom the Lord laid the foundation of the earth. By understanding he established the heavens. By his knowledge the deep waters were divided, and the skies dropped dew.

My son, do not lose sight of these things. Use priceless wisdom and foresight. Then they will mean life for you, and they will grace your neck. Then you will go safely on your way, and you will not hurt your foot.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid. As you lie there, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the destruction of wicked people when it comes. (Proverbs 3:19-25 GW) [Context– Proverbs Chap 3]

Key phrase

When you lie down, you will not be afraid... your sleep will be sweet

Digging Deeper...

  1. What are we told about the work of wisdom in the universe? Is this speaking of creation?
  2. How does this relate to what the Bible says in Genesis 1 and John 1:1-14? How is it related to trust and faith?
  3. How are we told to use wisdom? In what way will this foresight benefit a person?
  4. What assurances are given when a person lives with a genuine trust in God?

Make it personal...

How do you see the wise handiwork of God in creation? What causes you to marvel as you view the earth, the heavens, and the universe?

What are specific ways you could apply the wisdom of Proverbs in your own life? In what way do you need to practice more foresight—thinking ahead before you act?

Have you experienced a sense of security and safety in life? If not, why not? What worries and stresses do you allow to interfere with your trust in God?

Reflection...

The Proverbs of Solomon remind us of the value of godly wisdom—a wisdom founded on trust in and respect for God. They are not magical formulas, but guidelines for daily life. Wisdom is seen as a practical basis for relationship, business, and life in this world.

The benefits of wisdom are the result of living a godly life, not a morally good life, but a life of trust and faith. Moral goodness is a benefit of godly wisdom, so also general success, health, and good relationships.

Because of this trust in God, a person will be blessed with safety and security, whether day or night. But again, these are not guarantees, but guidelines and assurances that godly wisdom is valuable.