Dr. Ed Young - Living Life to the Fullest
1 Kings chapter number 10, read those early verses, and you'll read about a very wonderful encounter between two heads of state. When the president of the United States meets with the premier of China, it's news. And that's always been news. When someone who leads a nation meets with somebody else who leads another nation, it is significant. And in this beginning verses of chapter 10 of Kings, it tells about the Queen of Sheba as she would meet with our man we've been studying, Solomon, who was the King of Israel. Sheba was located in the southwest part of Arabia, maybe Ethiopia. She was very prominent, very wealthy, very successful, and honored queen, an honored leader of that nation. But she's heard so much about Solomon, about his wisdom, about what he'd built, about the temple, about his own palace, about the gardens and the horses and the animals and the zoo he'd created, about the beautiful flowers, about how he had married all these princesses from all over the world, and therefore, had a stable policy internationally. And on and on it went about the brilliance, the giftedness of Solomon.
So, the queen decided to take a trip and go to Israel, and she took with her a large entourage of camels and gold and silver and precious stones and all kinds of equipment and all kinds of means, and you can read about it in the Bible. And she made the way to Solomon, and the implication here is, she'd heard so much about Solomon. Man, he was brilliant and wise and a great administrator, a fabulous leader in so many areas. I think she thought it was overblown, you know? She said, "No, nobody could be that great. Nobody can be that smart. Nobody can be that astute. Nobody can be that successful". But when she got there and Solomon showed her around, and she had a series of questions as to how you administer a nation, and she fired off those questions, and Solomon gave brilliant answers, and she was overwhelmed, not only with the physical things she saw, the house of worship, the palace of the king, but the whole experience.
She was astounded, and in our terminology, she was blown away. She said, "Man, I didn't think there was anybody like this, there was a nation like this". She'd never seen such opulence, such affluence, such harmony, such power, such brilliance as she saw demonstrated all across the land of Israel, led by our guy, Solomon. And in that 10th chapter, the first verses there, you find a little phrase that I pulled out from the Queen of Sheba when she left. By the way, when she left, she gave Solomon $3,500,000 as a token of her appreciation, not bad. Solomon reciprocated and gave her fabulous gifts. But when she left, she said this little phrase: "The half has not yet been told". In other words, she realized only half of Israel, half of what Solomon had done, half of his brilliance, and she said, "The rest of the story has not been told".
I think Ecclesiastes tells us the rest of the story. I look at you, look at me. We know each other for a long time. I see you like this. You see me like this. But we know there's another side of me, there's another side of you. That's the other half. That's the rest of the story, and that's what we get here in Ecclesiastes. And in this section of our study, he tells us about stuff. And 'member, he's talking about vanity. He's talking about things that have no meaning. But look at verse 8 of chapter 5. He said: "If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked," get that, "do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them. And after all, a king," or a president, or a dictator, or a prime minister, "cultivates the field is an advantage to the land". What is this telling us? It says, "If we expect bad stuff to be handled by a bureaucracy, you're chasing the wind".
Now, get that. If we expect justice to be taken care of by a government, justice to be taken care of in a company or a corporation, he says, "You're chasin' the wind". Now, we know this if we've ever dealt with the government, do we not? We complain here, "It's not my job". We go up, we complain here. That's what he's saying. One official to another official, to another official, to another official, until finally, we're worn out as trying to get an answer to what we think is a very simple question or a simple situation. Does anybody identify with that? The writer of Ecclesiastes, our man, solo man, Solomon, he said, "You're chasin' the wind if you expect to get through a bureaucracy and deal with bad stuff". Also, he has another principle of stuff, and it's called, "money".
Verse 10, he says: "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. For when good things increase, those who consume them will increase. So what is the advantage to the owners except to look on"? What does he say here? He said, "If you fall in love with stuff, you're chasin' the wind. You're chasin' the wind". By the way, to be rich is not a sin. It's super to be rich, but, "To whom much is given, much is required". And it's easy for stuff to possess you and possess me unless if we advocate the right that we possess the stuff. So, he is saying, simply, "We just fall in love with it". And once again, they asked a question of a lot of rich people: "How much does it take to satisfy somebody"? And the answer is always the same: "Just a little more stuff". To fall in love with stuff. Somebody says, "Well, money is the root of all evil". No, "The love of money is the root of all evil".
So, what do you do? You tear out the roots? No, you cultivate the roots to produce a fair tree because there is purpose here. Because money can dominate us. It takes up our time, our energy, and Solomon goes on to talk about, "You don't sleep at night. You worry about stuff and things and stocks and bonds and security, and you have to move it around". This is what happened, but somebody who works hard with manual labor, those people have no problem sleeping. Have you noticed that? You work hard all day with sweat, you sleep at night. Very, very simple. Tolstoy, we're told, in his mansion, would feed anybody who would come and knock at his gate. He would take them right in and let them eat at his table. He said there was only one requirement: you had to have calluses on your hands. He said you go to his gate, you wanted to eat, he'd say, "Come on in, but let me see your hands".
And if your hands were slick, like my hands, you wouldn't get anything to eat. In that day, somebody who worked had calluses. He could tell the difference. So, when we work hard, Solomon says, "We sleep well at night". We don't have to worry about all this stuff. So, we see how love of money, love of stuff, he says, "It's just chasing after the wind". Then he tells us why, and we all know this. He said, "If you fall in love with money, if you fall in love with stuff, you begin to think you can take your stuff with you". He said, "You can't take it with you," and this begins at verse 13. He said: "There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to their hurt. When these riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there's nothing to support him with".
Here's the verse: "He had come naked from his mother's womb, and so he'll return in the same state. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand". Two pictures here. The clenched fist, "I've got everything I've ever made. I hold onto it". It's a sense of greed. You could be greedy and be poor and be greedy and be rich. My mother, a God-fearing woman, but she came up in such poverty, the last child of a large family who had nothing in the Depression years, and my mother was stingy. She was what she would say is greedy, greedy. She just held on to every penny. She's like that friend that somebody said, "He is so tight that he has a $1 bill with George Washington's picture on it when Washington was a baby".
I don't know what that means, but it's a picture of greed. It's a picture of a clenched fist, and that's not the way we are to live as godly people. And then there's the other picture he said. He made investments, foolish investments, and he lost everything he had. That's the other extreme. Hold onto it all, or, "I gotta have more, and I invest, I invest," and he loses it all. Then he comes and said, "We have to realize you can't take the stuff with you". You can't do it, empty hands. We came into this world naked, and, ladies and gentlemen, every one of us will leave this world in the very same condition. And then Solomon, at the end of this chapter, he does something very significant. Now, mind you, it is under-the-sun rationale. It is under-the-sun philosophies. But it does something very, very important. He says, "Even if you're a humanist and a secularist and all of life is like chasin' the wind," he said, "There's two things you gotta pick up".
And look at them, what he says. He says, verse 18: "Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, and drink, enjoy yourself in all of one's labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God gave him; and this is his reward". Then look at verse 20: "For he will not often consider," listen carefully, "often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart". What's he say we're to do? He said, "Enjoy what you have in life," nothing wrong with that, enjoy it. Fulfill all you can, enjoy life. And then he says, "Don't consider your years". Let me tell you something. You know the kind of people I stay away from? Who are always living in the past. "Well, I'm gettin' old now, Pastor. I'm not able to..."
Let me tell ya, I run from people like that, they're deadly. God might as well take 'em on up because they're not doin' any good here on this earth. They're just breathin' air, consumin' food. Let met ell you what Solomon said. He says, "Enjoy where you are. Don't consider the years". "I don't know have much longer to live. I don't know". Man, enjoy life, and know it's a gift of God, and look to the future. Look to the future and discover why God has left you here and God has left me here on this earth. Whether we are 15 or 105, it makes no difference. Learn the secret of handling stuff. John Rockefeller, Exxon, Standard Oil, man, at one time, when he was in his 30s or 40s, he was making a million dollars a week.
Man, we could cut some corners and live on that, couldn't we? But he was a very sick, sick man. He could eat only milk and cookies for years, stomach ulcers. He couldn't sleep at night. What do you do with a million dollars a week back in the early part of the last century? I mean, he was overwhelmed with wealth and success, how to handle it, what to do. And he just was a sick man, couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, was miserable, until somebody, read his biography, introduced Rockefeller to Jesus Christ in a real way, and he understood God's principle of stewardship. Whatever stuff he trusts us with, God owns it, and we're just responsible for it as long as we live on this earth. He's the owner. We're the steward. We're the supervisors of it.
And he began to give money away, tithed to his church, tithed plus to his church. He began to do all kinds of charitable things in America and around the world. And in three or four years, he got well. He became a healthy man. And John D. Rockefeller lived to be 99 years old, and the bottom line credit was, he learned how to be generous as Christ had taught him to be generous. Isn't that something? We live in a strange, convoluted world. Do you hear all the time about diversity and tolerance? We say, "You know, we live in a diverse society, and we have to be tolerant. Therefore, we have to take all worldviews as equally, as equal. We have to have all understandings of ideas as equal. All kind of lifestyles somebody would take as equal. All sorts of understanding of their sexuality as equal because we don't wanna be judgmental or narrow. We live in a pluralistic society, and we're about tolerance and about diversity," right?
You hear it all the time. If you work anywhere, "Oh, we're tolerant. We're diversified here". And then you have the question. "Well, all religions are equal," right? "We all wanna go to the same place". How many times have we heard that? "Aren't all religions the same"? People ask me that all the time. I say, "Absolutely, all religions are the same, except understanding the nature and character of God, except understanding sexuality, except understanding the family, except understanding the purpose of life, the meaning of life, except understanding time and eternity, except understanding the cosmos and the universe, except understanding when you leave this life, there's a heaven or a hell. Oh, yes, except those minor things, all religions are the same".
You see, Christianity is unique and distinctive. Truth is very, very narrow. I am standing here on this platform. Anybody wanna argue with that? That fact is very narrow. So is all truth, ladies and gentlemen. And therefore, when somebody says, "There are many paths that lead to the top of the mountain. It doesn't matter which path you take. It may be narrow or it may be broad. It may be straight, or it may be crooked. The important thing is not the path that you take. It is the destination". Can there be a dumber statement made on this planet? But you hear it all the time. "Let's go to LA. Oh, I wanna get in the car. We're gonna drive to LA. It doesn't matter which road you take. I mean, all roads you go ends up in Los Angeles. Everybody..." That is as foolish as anything in the world. You're gonna need a map. It's good to have a guide that will go with you.
There are many roads that lead to the top of the mountain, but Christianity tells us there was one who came from the top of the mountain and he gave a path all the way down to the bottom of a mountain where you and I live, and he came down and demonstrated love for us, for you and I live. And he says, "I am the way, the path, the truth, and the life, and nobody goes to the Father except up that path, except through me". So, he tells us how to handle stuff, a very important distinctive of the Christian life. All other people have all this ideas. God says, "Everything you have, all this stuff belongs to me, and you're stewards of it". So, what do we do? We do one thing. We step in the offering plate. You wondered what this was, didn't you? It's an offering plate. We had time, and I hope everybody will do it in your mind, we'd all step in the plate.
What does that mean? When I step in this plate, I say, "God, I give you all that I am, all I've ever be, I'm yours. I get it. You've loved me. You came all the way down from the top and showed me that you loved me, and now you've given me a path in this life and a path to go all the way back to the top when I leave this life. I give you my life". In the meantime, there's some principles that we need to use in handling stuff. We've already said, "You can't take it with ya," and that's right. But you know what you can do? You can send it on ahead, and that's the miracle of knowing how to handle money, stuff, possessions. Jesus says, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, for moth and rust can corrupt and thieves, and the changes of the marketplace or job situation, they'll break through and steal". He said, "Instead of laying up treasures on earth, holding onto it," he said, "Lay up treasures in heaven". He said, "In heaven, moth or rust won't corrupt, and thieves can't break through and steal". And then he says, "Where your heart is, that's where your treasure is"? No, he says, "Where your treasure is, that's where your heart really is".
So, when we step in the offering plate, we say, "Lord, I wanna be faithful to you". What does it mean to be faithful to him? "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, his way of living, and then all the stuff will be added to it, as we can be accountable for it". All the stuff can be added to it. "Seek ye first the kingdom". So, what we do, we move from this kingdom of this world and we say, "Lord, I move into your kingdom, and I move with all of my stuff". How does God know that I understand he owns all of my stuff and all of your stuff? The Bible says we're to be tithers, tithers, 10% of whatever we make. And then, above that, we're to give above and beyond that in sacrificial living, sacrificial giving. And nobody in this room knows anything about that, do we? No, no, no, no, we don't. But the tithe is a basic standard. Then there's the tithe plus. And they're different seasons of life. Everybody is to tithe, biblical principle.
We says, "God, that indicates your ownership and indicates my stewardship of it". But we have different seasons of life we can give over and above our tithe. I've been a tithe-plus person for a long time. But now, I can be a tithe-plus-plus-plus person. Why? Only body I have to look after is myself and my dog, Winston. Now, he's pretty high maintenance. He eats dog food twice a day. But see, at a different stage, when I was young and I had three sons, and, man, we were struggling to have one car, make the... that's a different... I couldn't tithe plus, plus, but now I can. I don't have any need for stuff. So, I can do a lot more, anything more. Just say, "Yea, I'm ready to work free. Take whatever you pay me, I'm handin' this all back, and I just want to live".
You see, that's a different stature in life, but all of us have to say, let God know that the stuff that he trusts us with is all his. We're gonna be faithful to the church, the body of Christ. This is a storehouse. We get to heaven. What kind of organizations are gonna be up there? None except one, the Church, the body of Christ. That's all we'll have. So, we send it on ahead, and that's where we wanna be rich with God here, proportionately, proportionate. It doesn't matter. Income is insignificant. We're just faithful in the little things, and maybe God will make us faithful over the much.
I remember as a boy, like clear as yesterday, asking my mom and my dad, all I remember, "Why don't we have things that other people have"? You ever thought about that? We worked hard. We were honest, God-fearing. And I remember the answer. They said, "Son, God trusts us with all he can trust us with. Evidently, he can't trust us anymore that we have, just the basic minimum". I understand that. And so, Gods trusts us. I think he gives to us all that we're can be trusted with, so let's let him know that we'll be accountable and responsible in our stewardship to him.