Ecclesiastes 4-6 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Uselessness of Selfish Toil
4 Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun:
And look! The tears of the oppressed,
The Vanity of Selfish Toil
4 Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
5 The fool folds his hands
7 Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun:
8 There is one alone, without [b]companion:
The Value of a Friend
9 Two are better than one,
Popularity Passes Away
13 Better a poor and wise youth
Fear God, Keep Your Vows
5 Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.
2 Do not be rash with your mouth,
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;
6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your [f]excuse and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.
The Vanity of Gain and Honor
8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent [g]perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them.
9 Moreover the profit of the land is for all; even the king is served from the field.
10 He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;
11 When goods increase,
12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet,
13 There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun:
16 And this also is a severe evil—
18 Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his [i]heritage. 19 As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his [j]heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.
Wealth Is Not the Goal of Life
6 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: 2 A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil [k]affliction.
3 If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a [l]stillborn child is better than he— 4 for it comes in vanity and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness. 5 Though it has not seen the sun or known anything, this has more rest than that man, 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice—but has not seen goodness. Do not all go to one place?
7 All the labor of man is for his mouth,
10 Whatever one is, he has been named already,
Psalm 102:18-28 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 This will be written for the generation to come,
23 He weakened my strength in the way;
1 Corinthians 9 New King James Version (NKJV)
A Pattern of Self-Denial
9 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the [a]seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we have no [b]right to eat and drink? 5 Do we have no right to take along [c]a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? 7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?
8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?
Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel [d]of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
Serving All Men
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the [e]law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without [f]law toward God, but under [g]law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became [h]as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
Striving for a Crown
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may [i]obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize [j]is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
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