What is it all about?
At some point everyone living individual has struggled with the question of “what does it all mean?” You know what I am talking about. We wonder how much of our life really means something and just how much of our life is really just fluff. We question at times is their really substance to what we are doing or is it simply vanity? Why should we work so hard on our job? What good are promotions or advancement in the long run? Is success the target that I should keep my eyes on? What good is all the art, music, movies, literature, and picnics at the park?
There is an answer! The bible tells us why we created and exactly how we should live our lives in conjunction with the haunting questions above.
As believers we know that all most everything in this world is vanity. Everything in the world is temporary, including the world. We know that we are not even citizens of this world and that we are merely pilgrims moving toward a city in the heavens made by God. This earth is passing away and we are waiting the return of our Lord or our death in order to take up the next life.
“To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.”
“Vanity of vanities says the preacher; vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does a man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:1-3, ESV)
Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon at the end of his life as he considered the question of “the meaning of life.” Solomon looked back and actually saw the futility or vanity of spending his life in pursuit of all the good things in this life. He looked at work, wealth, pleasure, and even wisdom and discovered a few facts.
• Even if any or all of the things that life offered was satisfying, it was only satisfying for a limited time
• Death will bring to a close for every individual all of these things in life including the limited satisfaction that they provided
• A person who lives in “fear” or awe, reverence, awareness, and in alignment with God’s purpose for our lives can enjoy all most all of the “gifts” that God provides in this life
• A person’s pursuit in life then is not things, pleasure, possessions, status, success, or etc., but a life lived in pursuit of God
Isaiah 43:7 states that we were created for God’s glory. I Corinthians 1-31 mandates us that whatever we do, no matter what it is, even as mundane as eating or drinking is to be done to reveal, unfold, magnify, reflect, or otherwise make known God’s glorious character.
Therefore, as we live our lives we are to be fully and actively cognizant that we are to reveal aspects of God’s character and nature to those around us making God attractive to those outside of the faith. I Thessalonians makes it clear that we are to work – therefore as we work we are to reveal God’s character in the manner in which we work.
Motivation becomes the barometer that measures all that we do. There is nothing wrong with working hard and striving to be the best that we can be if our motive is to reflect or reveal the character of God. Young people can pursue a myriad of careers, working as hard as they choose as long as they recognize that they are working towards the goal of pleasing God, not themselves or even their employer. Instructing our children to achieve success is not wrong as long as it is tempered, nay, smothered in the realization that it is not for self, “success”, promotion, or wealth that one works hard, rather it is in awareness that we are working in such a manner as to promote the character of God.
God is certainly a God of color, variety, texture, shape, sizes, and design. He has given these things to us to enjoy and even use. The caveat is simply that they are all given, from oceans, sunsets, music, fish, hill sides, flowers, art, etc, to first, be reminded that all things come from him, and second, to enjoy them and use them in manners that will reflect and reveal his character.
The sin, the folly, and the shame is to enjoy all these things and pursue all that we can gain and forget to God on the way. Life is to be lived to its fullest, with as much gusto as we can muster. Life is always lives in awareness of our creator with whom we will give an account of our life. We cannot make our life or all that is in it our treasure. If we do we become an idolater. We need to use everything that we possibly can to enable us to greatly treasure our God to the fullest extent possible.
What parting advice does Solomon have for us? “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.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, ESV)
Enjoy life, strive to do well. Always keep in mind that the only thing that will matter at and after death is God. Did you live in awe, reverence, respect of God and his revealed will in the scriptures? Was your motivation to live, work, play, and enjoy all that you could in order to honor him? God will at the Bema Seat examine each believer and reward them in accordance with this criteria. Some will have full reward here on earth with all they collected for themselves and have no rewards in heaven. Some will have almost much here in this life and yet have much in heaven.
What we often miss is let’s not encourage our children or ourselves strive to be successful in the eyes of this vain world which is passing away. Let’s encourage our children and ourselves strive to be a success in God’s eyes as revealed in his book, the Bible. Let’s not enjoy music, art, movies, literature or anything that we can create and accumulated in this life for selfish pleasure or motivation. Let’s enjoy it all to the glory of God!
The problem we face is the paradoxical nature of Gods' ways. We, in our human nature, apart from God's intervention hate His ways. What are the ways of God? Well, to be first we must make ourselves last; to be exalted, we must be humbled, the way up with God is the down, the way to become "rich" is to become poor, the way to save our life is to loose our life, the way to receive is to give, and most hideous and painful of all, the way to live is to first die.
There is no virtue in simply giving everything we have away or never striving for promotion if the motivation is for self benefit. As God lays various directives upon our hearts and motivated by the desire to be obedient, Christ-like and to reflect the character of God, our obedience is rewarded by His mercy and faithfulness.
Long after the final wrap parties, the awards, the recognition, and the “success” of Jack Bauer and 24 are forgotten, God will still be an awesome, holy, righteous God worthy of our respect, reverence, and reflection. 24 may have gone out on top and may go down as the most successful show in history; but that will mean absolutely nothing in eternity.
Who ever said, “Who ever dies with the most toys wins” was dead wrong!
Remember, “Only one life to live and soon will be past, only that which is done for Christ will last.”
I once thought if I just worked as hard as I could, strive to be the best, climb as hard as I could climb I could get to the top of my career field. Well, I did, I worked and climbed until I fell off the ladder at age 47 and had to start over. What are you working for? Are you laying up treasure in heaven or are you working for vanity?
What will you gain by all the toil which you toil under the sun?
Everything in life is temporary and transitory. Strive to obtain what you need to live and take care of those whom you love and are responsible for. Strive only for advancement if it can be used to further, deepen, and enhance your relationship to God and if it gives you the opportunity to reflect his glorious character. Enjoy all that God has provided in this world. If properly used, with the proper understanding, your use and enjoyment will reflect his marvelous character.