One of life's biggest questions is - Does life have a purpose?
The first person to write in detail about this search for meaning was king over the ancient nation of Israel. King Solomon was more rich, powerful, and wise than any other living person in his day. He had it all, tried it all, and discovered some profound things as a result.
One of his writings is the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. He wrote 12 chapters discussing the meaning of life. We're going to look at some selected passages as a concise sampling of his discussion.
- 1:2 - Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher / vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
- 2:11 - I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
- 5:10 - He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
- 12:1 - Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.”
His introduction (and eventual conclusion) implies that riches, power, status, education, sex, adrenaline, knowledge, you name it, none of these things will give us meaning. They can temporarily distract us from the question, and even give us some temporary satisfaction. But they will not reveal to us our utlimate purpose.
I like the way author Francis Chan put it: “We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness. The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His.”
We are not God. So by comparison to ultimate, absolute Reality, we are not much. Our existence is secondary and dependent on the absolute Reality of God. He is the only Given in the universe. We are derivative.
Rick Warren in his book The Purpose Driven Life says, Life is not about You.
- Colossians 1:16 tells us, “all things were created through Him and for Him.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This is why we do good deeds.
- Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
That is why we exist—to display the glory of God. Human life is all about God. That is the meaning of being human. It is our created nature to make much of God. When we fulfill this reason for being, we have substance. There is significance in our existence. Knowing, enjoying, and displaying the glory of God is a sharing in the glory of God. Not that we become God. But something of His greatness and beauty is on us as we realize this purpose. Not to fulfill this purpose for human existence is to be a mere shadow of the substance we were created to have.
John Piper writes, "Not to display God’s worth by enjoying Him above all things is to be a mere echo of the music we were created to make. This is a great tragedy. Humans are not meant to be mere shadows and echoes. We were to have God-like substance and make God-like music and have God-like impact. That is what it means to be created in the image of God. But when humans forsake their Maker and love other things more - they become like the things they love—small, insignificant, weightless, inconsequential, and God-diminishing."
This is heavy! We were made by God and we were made for His purposes and until we understand those purposes life will never make sense.
Before God created the earth, before He laid down the foundations of this planet, He thought of you. That’s what makes you special. That’s what makes you different from everything else in creation. Before He planned the foundations of the world God planned you. And He settled on us as the focus of His love to be made whole and holy by His love. The Bible says God is love and He created you - an object of His love. He made you so that He could love you. He didn’t need you. God wasn’t lonely. God created you for the motive of loving you.
If you don’t live for Jesus you will live for something else. If you live for career and you don’t do well it may punish you all of your life, and you will feel like a failure. If you live for your children and they don’t turn out all right you could be absolutely in torment because you feel worthless as a person.
If Jesus is your Lord and you fail him, he will forgive you. Your career can’t die for your sins. You might say, “If I were a Christian I’d be going around pursued by guilt all the time!” But we all are being pursued by guilt because we must have an identity and there must be some standard to live up to by which we get that identity. Whatever you base your life on – you have to live up to that. Jesus is the one Lord you can live for - who died for you – one who breathed his last for you.
Life is meaningless without God. God gives everything meaning. How do you live your life? as if there is a God? or as if there is no God? There is a distinct difference between believing God exists and living as if he exists.
In Matthew 6:33 Jesus challenged people to seek first God’s kingdom, saying that then the rest of life will have meaning and purpose.
You need significance. Not survival, not success. Significance! That’s where you find meaning and purpose. So, how do you find significance in your life?
- Know the meaning of life. That gives significance.
- Know how much you matter to God. That gives significance.
- Live out God’s purposes of your life. That gives significance.
How much do you matter to God? Do you matter to God at all?
In Isaiah 44:2 we read, "The Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not!" That’s how much you matter to God. When your mother was still carrying you in her womb God cared about you. God cared about you because He planned you. He wanted you in this world. In fact, He planned you before He created the world. You’re not an accident.
Psalm 139:16 the Psalmist writes: "In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them."
That’s how much you matter to God. God is interested in every detail of your life. He’s seen it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And He recorded it in His book even before you were born. He knew all the dumb decisions you would make. He knew all the dumb decisions other people would make that would hurt you and how you would hurt others. But He still loves you. And He still has a plan and a purpose for you. You matter to God!
Is God just playing games with us? Is He just trying to confuse us or mix it up so we don’t know the meaning of life? Absolutely not! God wants you to know why He put you here on earth. And God wants you to know how much you matter to Him. Every person on Earth was created to personally know and love God. Life is meaningless without God, but God gives everything meaning.