In his latter days, Solomon recalled his former deeds: “I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds. So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 2:4-9).
God looked upon His work of six days, and observed that it was very good (Genesis 1:21). Solomon looked upon his life’s work, and perceived that it was but “vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:17). “I hated life,” he said, “because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind…I hated all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun…” (Ecclesiastes 2:17-18). Concerning earthly endeavors, in general, the wise man concluded: “‘Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless’” (Ecclesiastes 1:1). It is a meaningful message plainly put. Few activities and/or accomplishments possess any eternal significance, and little of what “life has to offer” offers anything at all of lasting value.
Scripture teaches us that someday “…the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). It also teaches that “the things done in the body…whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:11) will not be burned up, but will be brought to bear on our eternal destinies.
This teaches us that we must expend effort in meaningful ways. “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Time is ticking. Moment by moment, our lives are passing away. Daily we are dying. Judgment draws nigh. What have we done, and what are we doing, with the time? The world beckons and begs us to fritter it away in fruitless pursuits that will bring passing pleasure, but eventual emptiness. They and their god long to see us major in the minor, and immerse ourselves in the thick of thin things that will bring no joy to our meeting with the Maker. Will we resist their summons?
Jesus said that “…whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated” (Matthew 15:17), yet Solomon found that “All the labor of man is for his mouth…” (Ecclesiastes 6:7). Generally, man allows his abilities, his energies, his resources and his time to be consumed with the inconsequential, with works destined for destruction. And, of course, after his labors finds that “…the soul is not satisfied” (Ecclesiastes 6:7). As the man who yearns for a hearty supper only hours after a plentiful lunch, so is mankind’s search for satisfaction.
But there is food available which does satisfy. Jesus talked about it: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). Accepting God’s purpose for our lives, and obeying His commands finally fills the void (Ecclesiastes 12:13). No more hunger pains. “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life…” (John 6:27).
Living a life of this sort will likely mean some major life changes, though. It will mean seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Life will no longer be about pleasure, money, promotions, vacations, houses, etc. These things may come, but they won’t be the focus. It won’t be the easiest life (Matthew 7:14), but it will be a life of meaning, filled with actions possessing eternal significance, and preparing you for a place of eternal security.