The Meaning Of Life
People want to give their life meaning and purpose. Especially now as you look at the military, they go to do war and to do battle, each army soldier wants to make his mark, wants to give himself meaning as to what he is doing. And the truth is there is no meaning in his life. In fact, it’s even worse than that. Not only is there no meaning, but if there is any meaning when we compare it to the misery of the world and what’s going on and how this world is passing away so quickly the only conclusion you can come to is depression and despair.
1 Corinthians 7:29 Paul says:
1 Corinthians 7:29-31 – What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
All the things that we consider misery and all the things that we consider to be happy, the things that give us joy are so fleeting in passing. We even experience that now, there are certain things that give us happiness and we try to relive those moments but it’s never quite the same because it’s always disappearing and slipping out of our hands. And even our misery, we have a tendency to forget the things we’ve gone through and all the pain that goes on because we’re trying to give meaning to ourselves and what we fail to realize is that this world right now in its present form is quickly passing away. And that’s what we’re going to look at. Look at Ecclesiastes 1:1 and that’s where we’re going to stay mostly today. And we’re going to look at a man who searched out wisdom and he tried to find the meaning of life. And the only conclusion that he could come to was that there was no meaning in life and that the sooner we admit that, the sooner we quit striving to find meaning in this world, the quicker we’ll find where there is meaning and where there is purpose and where there is life. Ecclesiastes 1:1 says:
Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 – The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
He’s applied himself to wisdom, he’s studied, he’s looked around, he’s examined the world. We’re going to see in a moment that he’s tried to experience everything that the world has to offer and the only conclusion he had come to is that everything is utterly meaningless no matter what it is you do. There’s no lasting value to it, there’s no real purpose, there’s no real significance, you have no intrinsic value. There’s nothing that you do that will really make any lasting mark that will change anything and yet we strive to do so all the time. Verse 3 says:
Ecclesiastes 1:3 – What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
So you live your life a few miserable days and you die. You do your job and that’s it. He says:
Ecclesiastes 1:4-8 – Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.
We can sit down and talk for the next hour and a half about how miserable this world is and it wouldn’t be enough. We can talk about all the things that we’ve done, we can write papers on it about how miserable this world is and how depressing it is and how there is no meaning and we wouldn’t even begin to cover the topic. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. More than one can talk about this life is meaningless. “The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear it’s fill of hearing.” Nothing is ever fulfilled, nothing is ever accomplished, nothing is ever lasting at all. The world continues on but we are of no significance in terms of what we do. And as we look to the world, as we try to gain some meaning from the world, what we begin to discover is that there’s nothing in this world that gives us meaning. Nothing that lasts. In fact, anything that gives us meaning we soon, hopefully, discover that it was utterly meaningless to even try and find meaning in this world.
Ecclesiastes 1:12 says:
Ecclesiastes 1:12-13 – I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven . . .
And listen to what he says God has done to man.
Ecclesiastes 1:13 – . . . What a heavy burden God has laid on men!
We try to get out from under that burden and we try to ignore that burden but it says that as he looked with wisdom, as he examined God’s dealings with men, the only conclusions he could come to is that God has laid a burden upon man. Verse 14:
Ecclesiastes 1:14 – I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
There is nothing you can name me that will give new meaning in this world. There is no meaning to life. Anything you strive to do, anything you do to accomplish. I don’t care, some men go after money, they go after power, whatever it is they are striving to do, in the end result it is meaningless, it is a chasing after wind. He’ll never be able to contain it, to hold it, or to say it was substantial. And you add to all this meaningless that is in the world and we also see that God has laid a burden upon man so that he’ll never find any meaning in this world and the reason for that is so that we might discover what really does give meaning. In Ecclesiastes 2:17 he says:
Ecclesiastes 2:17 – So I hated life . . .
That every man, woman, and child would reach that point in their life that they hated life. But men continue to go from what? One thing after another thing trying to find that meaning, that purpose, something to give them joy. When people first get married they have children and the children give themselves meaning, the life of the children begin to grow and it’s holding on to the wind because it disappears out of their hand and then eventually they grow up and then they have to fill their life up with something else because that meaning is gone.
Ecclesiastes 2:17 – so I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
No matter how noble the occupation or the work that you do it’s meaningless. It says there isn’t anything you can do, no activity, no labor, no job, no project, no hobby, nothing that will give you a lasting meaning or purpose in this life. In fact, if you sit down and examine the things that you do you’d see how ridiculous most of them are.
Ecclesiastes 3:18 – I also thought, “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.”
Now we see God dealing with man, we see Him laying a heavy burden on man. We see God almost trying to convince men how meaningless this life is. We see God coming to man to test them, that is to try them, to put them under fire and to bring things in their life, not to oppose them, but to work good. But God is coming along trying to get each man to see that he is like the animals, like verse 19:
Ecclesiastes 3:19 – Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.
God tests us, He refines us, He tries to show us that this world disappears quickly. We die quickly. That’s why Paul writes, he says, those of you that are happy live as though you’re not happy. And those of you who mourn as if you do not mourn. And those of you who are married as if you’re not married. Because everything in this present world is passing away, it is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 – All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.
The older I get the more quickly I see life passing by me. And the faster life seems to go to where I would die and meet God. And I begin to see that all the goals and all the projects and all the things that I went after were meaningless and meant nothing. Look at all the religious goals I might have had. All the spiritual things I wanted to accomplish. They’re meaningless unless one thing’s there. Ecclesiastes 4:1 tells us that as we look around the world we ought to be convinced this world is meaningless. As we look at all the oppression and the misery I don’t see how anyone could walk away with the conclusion that there’s any meaning or purpose or really any lasting joy in this world. And yet we try to prove to ourselves and lie to ourselves all the time.
Ecclesiastes 4:1-2 – Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter. And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive.
Now this is a man who is honestly looking at the world and its condition as it really is. And when he looks he declares that everybody that has died is better off than he who is alive. Now is that the kind of conclusion we have come to as we began to look at the world around us? Are we so involved in our petty little joys and our own little world that we fail to realize the meaningless of this world? That we don’t notice the oppression that is going on because we are so self-absorbed. We’re so concerned about our own lives and our own pleasures and what we do, we don’t even realize how meaningless this world is. We fail to understand the tests that God has put in our life. We fail to realize how quickly this world is passing by.
Ecclesiastes 4:3 – But better than both is he who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.
So his conclusion is that it’s better to never have been born, to never exist. Jesus almost echoes the same thing when he says that the children that are born to women that are going to hell are far more numerous than those that are going to heaven. Paul echoes kind of the same thing when he says it is better to remain single than to be married because those that are married will face many trials in this world. The only conclusion we can come to is that it is better to never have been born than to be here because of the misery and the pain that men face of how purposeless life is and everything that we do really has no lasting significance or meaning. If we look how powerless we are we begin to see there really is no meaning in this world.
In Ecclesiastes 7:29 it says:
Ecclesiastes 7:29 – This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.
We were made holy, God isn’t to blame. He isn’t the one that made this world what it is. He didn’t bring this sin and this misery. He didn’t bring this meaningless into being. God is not the creator of meaninglessness. Look at the world, look at your neighbors. Look at all the things people try to fill themselves up with and to give themselves meaning and purpose in life. Look at all the different activities men scheme to try to bring some pleasure or some happiness or a little bit of hope into their life. God made everything proper and right, He’s not to blame for the mess, we are. And the sooner we realize how meaningless life is, how utterly meaningless it is, the quicker we’ll have the joy that God has in mind.
Go back to Ecclesiastes 2:1. Because some scheme for what? Pleasure. We certainly live in a land and a nation where that seems to be one of the primary gods. He says:
Ecclesiastes 2:1-2 – I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?”
Why do you think men continue to find more and more things to give themselves pleasure? We are never satisfied. The ear never hears enough, the eyes never see enough. We’re never, ever satisfied because they never give us meaning or life. He says laughter is foolish. It doesn’t last, it’s ridiculous.
Ecclesiastes 2:3-5 – I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
Some people find all the meaning of their life in their gardens. They’re exciting about what they’re planting, what they’re going to harvest. And it’s what they live for and they’re proud of it. The largest zucchini they can grow. How utterly meaningless it is that the things we even try to give ourselves meaning with as men who keep souping up their cars and fixing them up and trying to make them into something. It’s meaningless, it’s utterly meaningless. “I undertook great projects” he says in verse 4. “I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.”
Ecclesiastes 2:6-8 – I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and females slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well—the delights of the heart of man.
He accumulated all these things around him, everything that we think that we want and would give us meaning and happiness and his only conclusion he could come to was that it was utterly meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 – I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
Now he says in verse 10 that his heart took delight in all the things that he did. You know it wasn’t like he did all those things and it just left him depressed, so to speak. He was pleased with what he had accomplished and what he had done but when he looked at the pleasure at being pleased at what he had done he found that it was meaningless, that even that pleasure, that laughter so to speak, that joy, was not lasting and it was meaningless, all that he had done. There was a hollow spot, there was something empty inside there. There was something missing.
Ecclesiastes 4:4 – And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
So if the people are dead now what does it matter what the neighbors had or did? Where they went, what they accomplished? There is no more competition in hell. Things don’t matter and everything comes into its proper perspective and people gnashing their teeth saying, “It was utterly meaningless. My life was a complete and utter waste.” We even see it in the world where we see some rich people who die. And before they die they say, “My life was a failure and a waste.”
Ecclesiastes 5:10 – Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.
So you can amass all of these things and you can gain a pleasure from making more and more money, but there’s no real meaning to what you’re doing, no purpose.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 shows that some people live in the past. Photo albums are great things to see people sit around and look at. Because why? We always think the past is a little more meaningful than the future or the present.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 – Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.
It’s not even a smart thing to go around asking ourselves why the past was so much better. Whether it was or not isn’t important. It’s a foolish and a stupid question because one of these days we’re going to stand before God and give an account for our life. Most people are going to have to declare that it was meaningless. Utterly meaningless, a chasing after the wind. There won’t be any living in the past standing before God. There will only be facing the future, an eternal future that never ends.
Ecclesiastes 8:16 tells us that some people look for wisdom. It says:
Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 – When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man’s labor on earth—his eyes not seeing sleep day or night—then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.
So what? Men try to discover the meaning of life, don’t they? They even try to discover the beginning of life. They try to discover the purpose. I mean, what is the purpose, why does man exist? The question happens all the time. When I was in college that was a great thing to run around asking as if we were intelligent for asking the question. I mean, I never had a professor or anybody turn to me and say, “Don’t ask the question because you’ll never find the answer.” That’s what Ecclesiastes says. Despite all men’s efforts to search out the meaning of life he will not discover it. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it. Because you see, the only meaning to life is God. And no man is ever going to comprehend God.
Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 8:2, he says:
1 Corinthians 8:2 – The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.
The man who thinks he’s got it together and he’s got all this wisdom and things down he doesn’t yet understand what he doesn’t understand. In 1 Corinthians 3:18 Paul says:
1 Corinthians 3:18 – Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.
So what I begin to discover is that I’m not going to discover the meaning of life. I’m not going to put God in His proper box and His proper perspective. I’m not going to have all the answers down, I’m not going to understand why God does all the things that He does. Those answers will not be mine to know. And I’m not going to gain God by gaining all kinds of biblical wisdom even. All kinds of knowledge or Greek and Hebrew and all of those things. He says if you’re going to know anything then you must become a fool by the standards of this age. Verse 19:
1 Corinthians 3:19-20 – For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”
Are what? Futile, meaningless, utterly meaningless. I’m afraid that so much just becoming a fool is realizing we’re a fool and falling before Him who is holy and gaining the wisdom from Him.
Ecclesiastes 8:9. Some people even try church to find meaning in their lives. I know people who never miss a Sunday or certainly some never miss a Christmas. Some of you will try to find some meaning, some purpose in their lives by going to church. Even church is not going to give you the meaning of life. Neither will tradition and activity give you the meaning to life. Going door to door and preaching the gospel will not give you meaning to life. Ecclesiastes 8:9 says:
Ecclesiastes 8:9-10 – All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt. Then too, I saw the wicked buried—those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.
Oh, they would go to church, they would go to the holy place and they would do religious activities and they were praised by the city and they were held up as religious people. They were said of, “There’s a good man,” or a good woman or someone who is religious or someone who is concerned about his neighbor but inside they didn’t have the meaning of life. Their meaning was what? Their good reputation. Their meaning was being in the holy place but without being holy. He says, “This too is meaningless.” People will go to church time and time again and they’ll stand before God and say it was all meaningless, an absolute waste of time. So what do we do from here? If life is all that miserable? If that’s the only conclusion we can come to and if we refuse to come to the conclusion and we allow God to test us so that we can come to that conclusion, what should we do? Well, Ecclesiastes 7:1 says this:
Ecclesiastes 7:1 – A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.
Everywhere we look what is this man of wisdom saying but look at the misery in this world? Look at the end result of your life. Know that you’re going to die quickly and know that everything is passing away. He’s saying examine and look and understand and let God test you so that you know this life is meaningless, that work is meaningless, pleasure is meaningless, family is meaningless. Verse 2:
Ecclesiastes 7:2 – It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.
We should go to a funeral parlor and sit down and consider. Verse 3:
Ecclesiastes 7:3 – Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.
There are very few churches I know that go in and sit down and have a sad face. They go to the holy place and they receive praise from one another and they give praise, but they fail to realize how utterly meaningless all of this is. Verse 4:
Ecclesiastes 7:4-5 – The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to the song of fools.
This may not be the most exciting thing to look at and examine. I mean it may not just attract everybody in to come in and consider how empty your life really is and how empty and void of any meaning you really are. I mean that may not be the most popular message but that’s what we have need to listen to and consider and examine and have in our heart. It may not be what fills the pews but it ought to be what fills our hearts. Verse 6:
Ecclesiastes 7:6 – Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools. This too is meaningless.
So we’re to go to a house of mourning. We’re honestly to sit down and become depressed and to consider how miserable this world is. We are to look straight in the mirror and consider how really detestable and meaningless we really are and that everything we do has no significance. We are to honestly examine and to understand that we make no lasting mark in this world. There’s no use trying to get anybody to remember Tim Williams or to establish Tim Williams as the pastor or any nonsense like that because it won’t last. It’s utterly meaningless. The only way that we have meaning, the only way that we gain any purpose is by being known by Jesus Christ because He is the meaning and the life.
Look at Ecclesiastes 12:1. Because there’s going to come a time when everybody’s going to declare this to be true. When somebody is really young it’s really hard to convince them that this world is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 – Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”—
There’ll come a time when in this life just you’re going to say there is no purpose in living. My great grandmother when she was going in for a very minor operation, I don’t know, she was about eighty-years-old and there was no reason for her to die at all, nothing physically wrong and it was nothing of a major significance, but she told my dad that she just desired to die. That there was nothing left to live for, her life was over with. And when she came out of the operation and was coming out of the anesthesia they could not bring her out no matter what they tried to do. They even had a tube running in through her nose and down so that she could breathe. And it’s a very sensitive area and the doctor tried to run that tube up her nose to cause enough pain for her to wake up. And they saw her flinch several times, but she never woke up, because why? She was worn out. There was nothing left to live for. There was no purpose.
Ecclesiastes 12:1-5 – Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”—before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when men are afraid of the heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.
When you’re just simply worn out. When nothing any more excites you at all. When you’re old enough to realize who wants to go to work? What purpose is there in all of this world? When the family and the friends are gone and all the books we’ve read and all the projects we’ve done and the hobbies and the things we’ve accomplished and all the travels we’ve done and all the pleasures we’ve had and in all those things you look back and you go, “I find no pleasure in those at all.” It says, “Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.”
Ecclesiastes 12:6 – Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well.
We began to look at Jesus Christ, we began to look at God and that’s where we began to find the meaning of life.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 – and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
“Remember God,” is what he is saying. He’s saying especially when you’re young look to the Lord. Before you’ve tried all of these things and wasted your whole life and praise God some people come to God when they’re eighty-years-old but you look back and you see that the whole life was wasted.
You’re going to have to come and look at God’s Word and examine and see what He has to say without dragging everything else along.
Ecclesiastes 12:12-14 – Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: 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.
He’s pointing us to Jesus Christ. He’s saying that’s what we have to consider, that’s where all meaning comes from. If we’re to have any joy or purpose in this meaningless world we must have Jesus living in us. There must be a complete surrender of the man in order to have any lasting significance in this world. It is only Jesus, in other words, that can give meaning to that which is meaningless. Who can take the things that are not and make them as though they were? There is only God, the author of life who holds life in His hands so that which is walking death can become life. And that’s who we have to look toward. Look at Ecclesiastes 2:24. It says:
Ecclesiastes 2:24 – A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,
Now he just got through telling us that all labor and all work was meaningless, didn’t he? But he says what? This too, I see is from the hand of God. And so somebody who works at 7-11 or Get ’N Go can find meaning in this world only if he is hooked into God. The banker or the vice president of a company will only find meaning in this life, any lasting significance, if he has Jesus Christ filling up his life. Then he won’t die saying it was all meaningless and it was all purposeless, there was nothing to it. Verse 25:
Ecclesiastes 2:25 – for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
Without God who can eat or find enjoyment? It’s from the hand of God if you find any purpose or meaning in this life. There’s no greater question that a man could ask, is he in a relationship with Jesus? And let me tell you there will be a time when God strips the eating, He strips all the activities and He strips all the pleasures from life to see if He is our meaning or not. Verse 26:
Ecclesiastes 2:26 – To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
The man who pleases God, God gives wisdom and He gives knowledge and He gives that man understanding about this world. But it has to come from the hand of God, it can’t come from church and it can’t come from your own opinion and it can’t come from labor and it can’t come from your own study. Ecclesiastes 3:12, he says:
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 – I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.
God’s purpose isn’t that we walk around in this meaningless world and never discover any meaning or happiness. But men will never have that happiness or that meaning until they give everything to God. Verse 14:
Ecclesiastes 3:14 – I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.
How little fear of God there is in the land and even in the church. But to know a God who gives meaning in no matter what work we do is to know an awesome God. For God to be in my life it gives meaning and purpose and happiness to what I’m doing, compared to all the misery in the world and how insignificant is what I do shows how powerful a God He is to overcome that kind of darkness.
Ecclesiastes 5:18, he says:
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 – Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.
What did we just get through seeing not too long ago? That it’s foolish to say that the old days were more pleasurable, were better. When God dwells in a man’s life and He gives him the hope and the purpose of eternity he seldom reflects on the past. He’s so busy living in a relationship with God and there is so much meaning in the present right now he doesn’t have to live in the past. There’s so much to look forward to in terms of eternity and being with Jesus Christ and even in this world the hope of eternity, that he doesn’t have time to sit down and look at the photo album and reminisce forever. It says, “He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” And yet men turn to psychology and they turn to all kinds of help books and all kinds of self-help things in order to find some what? Happiness and pleasure in this world and they’ll never find it.
We’re talking about a God that enters our life, lays hold of our hearts, and we are so busy in Him and Him dealing with us and us knowing Him that we don’t look back on the past and say it is better. You know what we always say? The future always looks better. Look at all the discipline God has put me through and all the misery, I wouldn’t want to go back to those days. Even the discipline that God’s going to put me through, today in that relationship with God He keeps you occupied with that gladness and that hope.
Ecclesiastes 9:7 – Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.
See this is not king that says we’re just supposed to walk around and be miserable all the time. It says in order to be happy you’re going to have to become miserable first. In order to keep that happiness you’re going to have to go to a house of mourning. In order to always have that joy that comes from God you’re going to have ringing in your heart the echoes of Ecclesiastes that says everything is meaningless except God. “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.”
Ecclesiastes 9:8 – Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.
Always be holy, always be ready to meet Him. Always be pure and “always anoint your head with oil.” Always have the Holy Spirit there. Always have that anointing that comes from the hand of God. Always have those clothes that are clean and white, be in a proper relationship with God. Always be in that relationship with Jesus. Treasure it above everything else. Know that anything else if you drift from it you’ll find no meaning in anything.
Ecclesiastes 9:9 – Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.
Do you see how all of this is mixed together? Even though he enjoys life with his wife, even though he has joy in eating and finding satisfaction in this world, even though he finds that he can find a purpose in toiling, he still says what? This life is meaningless because it’s only God who gives meaning. It’s only Jesus Christ who gives meaning and purpose. The happiest people in the world are those who know this world is meaningless and that know God. God isn’t going to remove the toil, is He? Misery isn’t going to disappear tomorrow in terms of the oppression of the world. And there’s going to come a time when you even as Christians will say, “This is meaningless, let’s go home.” But in all of that there is God. And you know you have a lasting joy that is coming. You know you’re going to meet Him who is your first love. Even though we work in this world we labor knowing that it’s meaningless, but knowing that it will be Jesus Christ who will give significance to this that is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 – Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
Got a little bit of a reminder there, isn’t it? You work at it with all your heart, Scripture says. Whatever you do, do for the Lord and do it with all your heart. But it is only Jesus who gives meaning. Not children, not family, not jobs, not eating and drinking, not vacations, not Labor Day Weekend, it is only Jesus.
Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 – Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless.
As you get close to thirty-five and forty you begin to acknowledge that’s true. And I’m sure that when I get older I’ll demand that it’s true. Youth and vigor mean nothing but when they are young they don’t consider that He’ll bring them to judgment. And how much anxiety there is among teenagers and young people, going after careers, trying to impress somebody, trying to gain wisdom. I don’t know, you know all of that anxiety. Rare can you find a teenager who can just rest in the presence of the Lord. You don’t even see it on family vacations. Kids want to go do this, parents want to do that, nobody is really together on a vacation. Anxiety and striving for the things in this world are meaningless. God has to be everything. Look at Ecclesiastes 5:1. it says:
Ecclesiastes 5:1 – Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
What should we do in church? It says go near to what? Listen. You know there’s never much talk in a funeral parlor. People sitting down and listening, considering and thinking. Or if there is a lot of talk it’s to forget what you should be thinking about. “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.” People get up and rush to church without ever thinking who they’re going to go meet. What is the purpose of all this? Are they like the wicked who go to church, who go to the holy place soon to be buried? “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifices of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.” You see the man who walks around saying this world is meaningless and I am meaningless sees himself clearly. But the fool goes to talk and to pray without ever thinking, without ever knowing who he’s coming before. He doesn’t consider what kind of God that he calls upon. And he offers the sacrifices of fools. And what is a fool? He doesn’t know that he does wrong. Or even know that this is all meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 5:2-6 – Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.
Watch your words and watch what you’re saying before God.
Ecclesiastes 5:6-7 – Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.
If all of us would shut our mouths in the presence of the Lord and even in the house of God and sit down and consider who it is that we worship we would have the meaning that we long for. We would know the purpose that we say we want to know. We would have the joy and the fulfillment that we say that we long for. If we guard our steps, shut our mouths, and stand in awe of God. But most will fill the religious traditions and go after their vain pleasures and never know the meaning of life.
Finally, let’s look at Matthew 10:39. Because don’t think for a moment you’re going to know this meaning or this purpose by giving God one-tenth or ninety-nine percent of your life. Jesus says in Matthew 10:39 that this is the only way you’re going to find purpose and meaning in life.
Matthew 10:39 – Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Whoever takes his life and throws it away for Jesus Christ, whoever becomes a fool in this world to find the joy and the meaning and the purpose to life. Whoever finds his life, his nice little religious life or his projects or his promotions or his jobs or his money or his family or whatever it is that he is after, whoever finds what he wants will someday die, saying it was utterly meaningless. More than that, we’ll stand before the throne of God and say, “It was utterly meaningless.”
Let’s go ahead and pray.
Father, write these words in our heart. Teach us, O Lord, to number our days and to guard our steps that, Father, we might be filled with the joy that can only come from heaven and a meaning that can only come from Your hand. That we might have a joy, Father, that only comes from You. Test us, Father, that we might know that we’re like the animals and to dust we will return. Teach us, O Lord, that You are everything and show us the joy and the secret, Father, of losing our lives for the sake of Jesus. To only then to discover to our surprise, Father, that You are the meaning of life. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.