Have you noticed that sometimes when you think too much about life, you can become discouraged? As I get older, I realize just how quickly my life is passing. When I evaluate the fruit of all my effort, I can wonder, “What have I accomplished that will last”?
Such contemplation can be discouraging if I do not also consider God in the process. A life lived without God will pass without experiencing lasting value. True meaning, purpose, and significance only come when we experience life in relationship to God. Solomon teaches us that in his masterful book called Ecclesiastes.
King Solomon spent time in the book reflecting on life and does not want us to miss what is paramount in the short period that we have on earth. He intentionally sought out where he could find lasting meaning and fulfillment “under the sun” (which means, on earth alone).
Where is lasting value when everything goes so quickly? One of the famous verses in his book of reflection is Ecclesiastes 1:2 which says,
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”
Solomon begins his reflections by stating that life considered “under the sun” is “vanity.” Ogden and Zogbo note that the emphasis in the phrase “vanity of vanities,” is that “life is full of unresolved questions, that it is puzzling and full of irony.”
The word “vanity” literally means “breath or vapor” and is stressing that something is “fleeting” and “elusive.” As the NKJ note says, “Wherever we read the word vanity in Ecclesiastes, we should think not of what is ‘meaningless,’ but of what is ‘quickly passing.’”
So what should a man do to make sure he experiences life to the full before it passes as a vapor? Solomon tells us the answer in the very last verse of the book. He said,
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
There it is! After 12 chapters of showing the puzzling irony of life, Solomon says that answer is a life lived for God has value. We must live life above the sun. Make your maximum impact in the vapor of life by living it in a way that pleases God.
Father, thank you for the reminder of the brevity of life. Thank you that Solomon gave us wise insight to the puzzling questions about life. Although I cannot answer all of these issues now, I can see that life lived to the full is the life lived with you and for you. Help me to make my maximum impact for you this year.
Following Jesus with you,