Blueberry Donuts!

Jeff Munroe

Read: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

I kept my heart from no pleasure. (v. 10)

It’s easy when reading a passage like this to nod in agreement. It’s easy to castigate “them,” the faceless people who have more money than we do and show off with self-indulgent big houses, fancy cars, boats, and expensive clothes.

Just as I was writing that, I heard someone had brought in fresh blueberry donuts to the seminary today, and my first thought was, “I better get over there before they’re all gone.” I am hopelessly self-indulgent. If the gate agent calls my name and says that I’ve been upgraded to first class, I surely don’t protest and say, “But what about all these other deserving people?” I like first class.

Qoheleth (speaking in the voice of Solomon here) isn’t saying that pleasure and nice things are inherently bad. Instead, he is pointing out the futility of making pleasure a goal. Pleasure is a by-product when we give ourselves to something bigger than our small selves. I had an atheist professor in college who said that the goal of life was to “be happy.” I didn’t have the maturity to take him on, but I knew his philosophy wasn’t deep enough. I’m not against happiness, but if that’s your goal, you won’t reach it. Much wiser words come from Jesus, who said that the way to find life is in picking up a cross and following him, and that “those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25 NRSV). There’s more to life than being first in line for blueberry donuts! —Jeff Munroe

Prayer: Give us pleasure, O Lord, from following you.