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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

What is the meaning of life? (Ecclesiastes 12)

I would guess that everyone at some point asks the questions: (1) What is the meaning of my life and (2) Where can I find happiness? That's what the book of Ecclesiastes is all about as King Solomon asks those same questions and seeks to find the answers.

Solomon starts out very negative telling us that everything in life is absolutely meaningless:

Ecclesiastes 2:11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

It's easy to want to stop right there and not finish the book because it just seems to be going in a depressing direction. But when we continue on, we learn some profound truths:

Ecclesiastes 5:10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness.

Ecclesiastes 5:13 Hoarding riches harms the saver.

Ecclesiastes 6:9 Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don't have.

Ecclesiastes 8:14 In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!

Solomon is telling us that even if we attain the greatest wealth, the highest position, the best food, every relationship our heart craves, and every possession money can buy, we still won't be satisfied. Our thirst will never be quenched by any of these things.

They won't provide the happiness we crave. They won't answer the nagging question, "What is the meaning of my life?"

Finally as we get to the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon gives us the answer:

Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now your Creator.

Why? Because when we look to God, our Creator, we get the answer to the meaning of our lives.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image"

God created mankind in His image and then gave us our purpose, to reflect His image, His likeness, His character, and His love, to a world that does not know Him. He also gave us dominion over all the animals in this world. We are to care for them as well as each other, as we reflect God's image to others.

So the meaning of our lives is to be God's image bearers.

Ok, but what about happiness? Where can I find happiness?

Well, happiness is actually meaningless because it is nothing more than a fleeting feeling that quickly comes and quickly goes, ebbing and flowing as our circumstances change. So when we say we desire happiness, what we really crave is joy.

Joy is not dependent on our changing circumstances. In fact, joy is something we can have regardless of our circumstances. Joy comes when we truly find God, trust in His plan of salvation through Jesus' sacrifice in our place, and then submit to Jesus as the Lord of our lives.

It is only through a relationship with Jesus that we can truly know God and satisfy the craving programmed into our heart for a deep relationship with Him.

John 14:7 Jesus said, "If you really know me, you will know My Father as well."

Matthew 7:22-23 Jesus said, "Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’"

The Greek word for "know" in these two verses as "ginosko" which means to know intimately. It doesn't mean to know about Jesus. It means to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

Those who repent of their sin and trust in Jesus not just as their savior but also as the LORD GOD of their life, will know (ginosko) Jesus intimately and in so doing know (ginosko) God the Father intimately.

How? Because when Jesus becomes the LORD GOD of our life, the Father gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us until we end this life and join Him for all eternity.

Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

As we experience the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit, we are filled with unexplainable joy, no matter the circumstances, no matter the challenges this life brings. This is why King Solomon concludes Ecclesiastes with:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Fear God and keep His commandments.

In other words, when we "fear" (have awe-filled reverence for) God, and keep His commandments, He fills us with His Spirit and we experience the joy that only His presence can bring. Through the Holy Spirit's guidance, we also understand the meaning of our life, to be God's image bearer.

Dear Lord, Thank you for the reminder from Ecclesiastes that the purpose of my life is not about position, power, or possessions. Those things will never define me, provide meaning to my life, or fill me with your joy. Only when I let go of those things and pursue You, Lord, is my thirst quenched, my life filled with meaning and the joy of Your presence. Lord, please direct my every step and every word so that I am reflecting Your image, Your likeness, Your character and Your love, to a world that does not know You intimately. Lord, thank you for allowing me to know (ginosko) You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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