Searching for Pleasure
August 1, 2003 - The whole world is searching for peace and satisfaction. Young people, especially, are desperate to find fulfillment in their lives. Ecclesiastes 12:1 says, "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth" (NIV). King Solomon, whom we think wrote Ecclesiastes, was one of the richest men who ever lived. He was also very wise. The Bible says that "Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt" (1 Kings 4:30, NIV). But he was searching. And his search led him everywhere. Solomon had everything one could dream of, but at the end of his search, he said, "It's worthless. Everything is vanity" (Cf. Ecclesiastes 1:2).
A Message by Billy Graham
Solomon gave himself to pleasure. He said, "I thought in my heart, 'I'll just test myself with pleasure, and I'll try everything that there is in the world that gives me pleasure'" (Cf. Ecclesiastes 2:1, 3).
He tried alcohol, women, music. He had 700 wives. He had 300 concubines, or mistresses. He ate the best food. He drank the finest wines. Just about everything that you're working for and dreaming about or thinking about, he had it. Solomon said, "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure" (Ecclesiastes 2:10, NIV). He gained all the pleasure that he could find. But one day he said, "Everything is meaningless. I'm chasing after the wind. It's vanity" (Cf. Ecclesiastes 1:14). A person can have all the riches in the world and it won't fill the emptiness of his heart.
You may be living for pleasure—but that's like going to a theme park and standing in line for two or three hours to get on a merry-go-round. The ride lasts only a few minutes and it's over. Many people live their lives like that. They can hardly wait until the weekend to go out drinking and partying. They do everything they can to give themselves pleasure. Yet the pleasures they experience are short-lived. The Bible tells us that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23, NIV). If you are intent on doing something you know is wrong, there's nothing likely to prevent you from doing it, but the Bible also teaches that God sees everything, knows everything and weighs everything in the balance—and there's a payment coming.
Jesus said, "Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15, NIV). And the Bible says that "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV). Money is not the root of all evil; the LOVE of it is the root of all evil. And how many of us are trying desperately to formulate our educations and our careers in order to make money and to make more money? Where does it end?
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 8:9 that Christ was rich, "yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (NIV). I'm rich—but not because of what I've earned or what I've learned. I'm rich because of my faith in Christ. I have repented of my sins.
Jesus, we're told, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning the shame. Think of Jesus. He had it all. But He gave His life on the cross so that you and I might live. He died on that cross. They lacerated His back. They pulled His beard. They pulled His hair. They spit on Him. Then the Roman soldiers nailed Him on a cross. They put a spike through His legs. And He hung there, bleeding, suffering. They said, "Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:40, NIV).
He could have come down and swept them all into an eternity without Him, and the whole world would've been lost. But He stayed there. He knew that He was dying for you and for me. He loved you and He died for you.
Not With Your Mind Alone
Our minds have been affected by sin. We can't think our way to Jesus. The Bible says, "The god of this age [which is the devil] has blinded the minds of unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 4:4, NIV). Our minds are supernaturally blinded. The Bible tells us that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV).
When I tell you that you can put your faith in Jesus Christ and have your life changed and that you can go to heaven, it's foolish. You laugh and think, "It can't be—that somebody could die on a cross 2,000 years ago and that it would affect me today."
But the Scripture says that in Jesus Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3, NIV). Think of it. In Him is all knowledge. Solomon was looking for that.
When I was in high school, about 16 years of age, I went to church faithfully because my parents made me. I didn't understand very much of what I heard, but I knew that it was the thing to do. I was baptized and confirmed. But nothing brought peace to my heart. One day, an evangelist came to our town. I was against him from the start—I didn't like anything that I read or heard about him. He was there for about a month. During this time, one of the men who worked on my father's dairy farm said: "I've been going to hear this man preach in town. How about going with me?" So one night I went with him.
The evangelist didn't talk about the latest book he had read or the latest movie he had seen—he just spoke from the Bible. And one night when he asked people to come forward to receive Christ, I went. And while I was standing there, I thought, "I'm making a fool of myself." I saw two or three of my school buddies, and they probably were snickering, but I stayed. I received Christ into my heart. The Apostle Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16, NIV).
I went home that night, and I remember it was a full moon. From my bedroom window, I looked out at that moon and I thought for a long time. And then I got on my knees and I said, "O God, I don't understand all that happened tonight, but I know something good has happened to me."
And from then on, I felt different. I still made many mistakes and I still committed many sins, but I knew that Jesus was in my heart and I knew that He was taking care of all those things.
Religion Does Not Save the Soul
Solomon developed a love for the arts, for music, for culture, for beautiful gardens, for concerts. He loved it all. He had it all. But it didn't bring him any peace of mind. And Solomon tried religion. He built a great and beautiful temple. But religion without a personal encounter with Jesus Christ does not save the soul. People are searching for a religion that satisfies, that gives peace. And millions of people are searching for God through religion.
One time I was at an airport in India, getting ready to leave. And the airport was jammed with young Americans. They were lying on the floor, on the couches—everywhere. I asked someone, "Who are these people?" I was told that they had come to sit at the feet of a guru to find answers to their problems. But they couldn't find the answers there. Religion can become like a drug. You take a little religion, go to church, read the Bible, pray a little. This vaccinates you, so that when you hear the true Gospel, you won't receive it because you're vaccinated. Those things are wonderful practices, but in them must be a total commitment to Jesus Christ.
Every time we hear the message of the Gospel, if we do not respond to it, our hearts get harder and harder. Did you know that if you read this message and don't do anything about it, there will be another ring of hardness around your heart? This is your hour and your moment. You may be a religious person, but deep inside you're not sure how you stand before God.
In talking about Himself, Jesus said, "One greater than Solomon is here" (Matthew 12:42, NIV). He also said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32, NIV). And He said: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6, NIV).
In 1934, I made the decision to follow Christ. And I've never changed my mind. Though I have failed God many times, He has never failed me.
Solomon, too, finally came to a conclusion about how to have peace, fulfillment and a life purpose: "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, NIV).
If your computer gets locked up and is going nowhere, you can press a few buttons and start all over again. You can do that now. You may want to recommit your life to Christ. You may want to receive Him for the first time. You can open a "new document" and have a new beginning.