Wisdom literature in the Bible isn’t written because it feels good but because it speaks words of truth to us. Sometimes these are hard words of truth. Wisdom is important because it is one of those things none of us are born with. It is something that develops our entire lives.
There is a sense that as we, shall we say, attain more years that we grow toward wisdom, perhaps even attaining some measure of it. It is kind of like driving a car.
When we are very young, we don’t know anything about driving a car. We just know that it is kind of a magic box. Somebody puts us into it, straps us into a seat and then we fall asleep. When we wake up we’ve been magically transported to a new place. Cars are amazing.
As we get a little older our view of cars change. We get our license and for a few years we put a lot of energy into passing anyone and everyone. There isn’t always a lot of common sense used in our driving of these amazing magic boxes, much less wisdom. But they get us where we are going and as fast as we can possible go.
In all this we spend a lot of time passing other cars only to meet them again at the next light. Eventually this happens enough times that we figure out the passing part isn’t all that useful in getting us ahead so we just wait. That is the beginning of wisdom. The high speed pass over short distances doesn’t make a lot of difference in the end so why bother with it? Odds are the cars we just passed are going to catch us at the next light.
That is what the author of Ecclesiastes is getting at. Life in the fast lane really doesn’t get you there any faster. When you do the math, going faster doesn’t get you there all that much faster.
Which begs the question, “where is it that you’re going, anyway?” What is it that you are chasing? What is it that you’re in a hurry to get? Martin Luther put it this way, whatever we “fear, love and trust” the most — those things are our gods.
If we are in the fast lane pursuing our achievements, or money, or fame, or family, or hobbies, or sex, or youth, or power, then those things are our gods. And, according to Ecclesiastes, all of those things are vanity like chasing after smoke in the wind. All those things are making mad passes only to meet at the next light.
No matter how fast or how slowly we drive, no matter how smart we are and how many answers we have or don’t have, the one thing that is certain is Christ. We’ve all had changes in houses, cars, careers, and relationships. That one thing that has never changed is Jesus Christ. Everything else has changed but Christ’s presence has not.