With the vast amount of information now available online we have access to all kinds of “wisdom” to help us find the answer to “What is the meaning of life. “Google it” has become a verb in which many of us use today. Wikipedia has become a free “reliable” source of information that covers nearly any topic you can imagine. Just for fun I searched for “the meaning of life” on Google, the search engine returned about 274,000,000 results. It took Googles servers 0.82 seconds to come back with all those results, it’s going to take you more than a lifetime to read them all. Here is a shortcut…
The author of Ecclesiastes has really given us something to think about when it comes to understanding wisdom and life. He, presumably Solomon, takes us on a wild and at times confusing journey of trying to find meaning and purpose in life through pleasure, work, prosperity and wisdom. “Meaningless! Meaningless! Says the teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (1:2) “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (1:14) Solomon was in his time one of the wisest men in the world, “God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore.” (1 Kings 4:29) So here we have the words of a very intelligent man, one who was given a gift from God to lead and guide his people, to help them find purpose and meaning in life so that they could lead a life holy and pleasing to God. This collection of life experience and Godly wisdom written for the people of that time is transferrable to our lives today. We all live in the same world of sin and despair today. God, who is our hope in life and in death has revealed to us through his word the true meaning of life.
So, can Google or any other online search help give you and answer to what the meaning of life is? Yes, I believe it can, but it is like finding a needle in a haystack. Our online digital world is relatively new compared the writings of the bible which date back much further and much deeper into history. Understanding wisdom, finding meaning in life has been a journey many people have made before us and God inspired man to record it for us in His word. The author of Ecclesiastes comes to a point in his journey that brings him to this conclusion about life, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” (12:13) Our attitude in life is one that needs to focus on trust and obedience to the word of God. Yes, life is difficult. Live and grow in the knowledge and experience found in this collection of teaching on wisdom written by Solomon, it is the needle in the haystack of 274,000,000 hits on Google, and it will only take you an hour to read it.
Charles Spurgeon in his devotional Morning and Evening on May 19th wrote these words: “Upstarts frequently usurp the highest places while the truly great linger in obscurity. Even though He is the Prince of the kings of the earth, when our Lord was on earth, He walked the footpath of weariness and service as the Servant of servants.”
Spurgeon was reflecting on a short passage from Ecclesiastes 10:7, “I have seen servants on horses, while princes walk on the ground like servants.” This verses reminds me of some modern day movie storylines (I won’t reveal their names but you can imagine what they may be as I watch these with my three girls) where during the final battle or surprising conclusion to a quest reveals the prince or king coming forward from the crowd dressed as a commoner or soldier. The grand reveal in these stories gives the people a confidence and a cause for loyalty and honor to their prince or king, there is a connection made at a “ground level” that helps bridge the gap from royalty to commoner. There is a sense of compassion, care and love that people feel when they are connected.
Christ in His completely unselfish act of humility walked and served among us as sinners, he connected with the lost, the sick, and the social outcasts; He had compassion on them, He loved them. As Christ walked with us in this world he was among those who experienced the consequences of a prideful heart, He walked alongside people like you and me as we “sat in the saddle” of pride and self-centeredness, I can only imagine how this must have broken His heart. Christ was never here to sit on the horse and lead us from the front; He came to walk with us on the ground. Today when we jump off the horse and walk humbly in His name He gives us the opportunity to lift others up. Through the power of the Holy Spirit He walks with us as we pour out compassion, care and love to others just like He continues to do for us.
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion to the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
Ecclesiastes is a book full of great teaching, much of which centers around the senselessness of putting stock into the things of this world compared to the advantage of trusting that God will supply all our needs in life. Reading Ecclesiastes through the lens of learning about humility I was drawn to the very last verses where it hits on the topic of fearing God and keeping his commandments. Proverbs 22:4 clearly tells that “humility is the fear of the Lord.“ After reading through Ecclesiastes Solomon essentially gives us a mini pep talk, a motivational mini speech through these two final verses. We have made it through the following 11 chapters and then he wraps it up like this: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion to the matter”, it is like he says lets not dwell on all that stuff (although he seemed to as he repeated himself often) here is the most important part… FEAR GOD (be humble) and KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS (follow the rules).
The humble lives we are called to live don’t have to be boring and mundane, God gives us everything we need, we just have to be willing to accept it in His measure. God’s goodness and love is poured into our lives as humble servants when we allow Him to direct our lives. It is up to us, it is our choice to follow his commandments. Taking what God has given us and finding joy, peace and good in it needs to be celebrated as a gift from Him.
We all face many of the same situations described in the words of Ecclesiastes today. I can think of many people in my own life that continually fight the futile battle in life to achieve the best and biggest in life. I am guilty of the same kind of attitude in many respects; it is a part of my human nature. As I spend more time in God’s word reflecting on the words of instruction for my life the more I see how my life is influenced by the world around me. Today I read Ecclesiastes as a call to dig deeper in knowing my place in God’s plan, depending more on Him for the things that will shape who I am. Thankful for the many things I have already learned I wait in anticipation for what He has yet to teach me.