“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us how he set out to determine man’s purpose in living: “And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised” (Ecclesiastes 1:13). To his credit, he takes time to reflect upon the question: “Why am I here”? Throughout the remainder of the book, he describes the different ways in which he tried to find happiness apart from God. He attempted to find meaning in life by building great works, seeking pleasures, and accumulating wealth. (Ecclesiastes 2:4-11). However, these things ultimately brought him no sense of meaning or happiness to his life because he realizes that, like all of us, he going to face death and cannot take these things with him. It is vanity to seek after such things (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20).
Death is coming. It is an appointment that cannot be avoided no matter how much we may not want to think about it (Hebrews 9:27). Knowing our own deaths are coming, however, has the positive benefit of causing us to contemplate how we should be living our lives upon this earth (Ecclesiastes 7:1-4). It causes us to take a more serious look at our lives on earth as we consider: “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
As the opening verses above indicate, Solomon’s conclusion to the purpose of life is very simple: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). You may be thinking, “That is an awfully simplistic view of life!” This is just the point! Life really is simple! We tend to make life so much more complicated than it has to be. We have a tendency to go out and elevate things such as careers, wealth, and pleasures and make them the major priority in our lives when they should not be. As a result we bring a lot of misery upon ourselves as we pull ourselves apart trying to go in a bunch of different directions at once and weighing our hearts down with a lot of worthless worries. Solomon said, “Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). We need to focus on just one main goal in life instead of pursuing a lot of “vain” things. We should live life holding God in reverence and striving to walk within the boundaries of His law and everything else in life will fall into its proper place.
As Solomon concludes the whole matter regarding purpose and meaning in one’s life, he urges young people to, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Live a long a prosperous life with meaning and purpose serving God. Don’t waste your years “sowing your wild oats” and end up regretting that you wasted so much of your life following after “vanity”.
Today, I rejoice that God has given me purpose for living. I don’t have to search out what my purpose is in life. He has told me: “Fear Him and his commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Today, I will strive to hold God in the highest reverence and be content living within the boundaries of His Word. I will not let Satan lead my heart astray by seeking after many “schemes”!
“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).