Proverbs 12:11 [ESV] Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. ... 

When we read about worthless pursuits, let’s not be tempted to think of young people and their video games or Youtube watching. Nor should I only consider the potentially worthless pursuit of binging a season of my favorite show on Netflix. 

Instead, we must remember that the definition of what God might consider to be a “worthless pursuit” can be much more complex and far-reaching.

For example, anything not guided or blessed by God – anything not within His will – can become a worthless pursuit. 

James 4:13-15 warns us about setting about on any plans not guided by God [ESV] 13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 

While God’s will does not need to be consulted in deciding if you should serve broccoli or green beans for dinner, buy a blue car or a black one, etc., I believe that there’s much more of our lives that could and should be subjected to the “God’s will test” than not, especially if you and I want to ensure that we don’t pursue something that is worthless. 

So, we need to search God’s scriptures, lay out our plans to Him via prayer, and seek wise council among trusted advisors before life’s big decisions – like marriage, college, career choices, and volunteering. Volunteering, helping others, is an important component of the Christian walk. But we should ask God, “What should I spend my time doing? Where would you have me serve?” before getting involved with a women’s shelter, church program, service project or any other charitable deeds. 

God has invested each of us with talents and 24 hours a day. Any time or talent not nestled in His will can ultimately be a worthless pursuit.

Solomon has a lot to day about pursuits in this life that don’t end up with any value. He uses the word “vanity” scores of times in the book of Solomon. The word translated “vanity” means, literally, breath or breathe. However, the implication is clear: so much of what we pursue in life is temporary and has no lasting value. 

Just a few things he mentions include: 

  • The pursuit of pleasure – Ecc. 2:1

  • Working to keep up with your neighbors – Ecc. 4:4

  • Love of money – Ecc. 5:10

  • Lots of words – Ecc. 6:7

Solomon actually leads off with the idea that everything pursued in this life is vanity. Ecc. 1:14 [ESV] I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

What does that leave us to pursue that is not worthless? What lasts? Of course, you know this. It’s the things that last beyond this life. 

Things like:

  • Good works – Hebrews 6:10 [NIV] 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

  • Labors of love –1 Corinthians 3:12-14 [NIV] 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.

  • Caring for others – Matthew 25:31-46

In addition, sisters, we must consider that when we do seek and receive guidance from God on what to do with the time, resources and talents, failing to do it becomes a new problem.

James 4:17 [ESV] So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

When we seek the Lord’s will and follow it, we will not be lead into worthless pursuits. Likely, we will be so busy doing the will of God, doing the works that last past this life, that we won’t even have time the fit in any worthless pursuits. 

Consulting God’s will and pursuing the works that matter will keep us from the worthless pursuits which Solomon warns us about.

I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.