4 Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.
5 “Fools fold their idle hands,
leading them to ruin.”
6 And yet,
“Better to have one handful with quietness
than two handfuls with hard work
and chasing the wind.”
Dear God, this kind of follows up on yesterday’s prayer. I heard it in an Andy Stanley sermon I listened to while I was on a bike ride last night. I wonder at what point Solomon emerged from this wisdom of pitying the oppressed and into being an oppressor. I was watching an interview with a movie star this morning and she mentioned that she had won her first major award at 26. She was young and pretty. But then, as she put it, people started to “remove obstacles” from her and she began to take advantage of being a star. Her father sat down with her at one point and told her, you’re becoming an ***hole. She said that she is now a believer in all of our need to have obstacles in front of us. It seems to me that she might be right in that the removal of obstacles from Solomon’s life became a detriment to the wisest man who ever lived.
All of that being said, there is a great message in these verses. When my drive for success is motivated by jealousy of and competition with others, then I will absolutely be chasing the wind. As Andy Stanley put it in the sermon, someone will always have an “er” over me. They will be smart-er, cut-er, rich-er, happi-er. They will have more successful children, better jobs, prettier homes, more fulfilling marriages, or whatever. I can’t chase them all. Better to focus on you and your call to me while ignoring all others. Following your call is the best way to find my contentment. Chasing the perceived success of someone else will only lead to exhaustion and emptiness.
Father, help me to be peacefully quiet. Help me to embrace all that you have for me today. Help me to bless others for their success and to care more about their peace and contentment than I do what they have that I don’t have. Help me to be an instrument of your peace in their lives.
In Jesus’s name I pray,