For the preaching
of the cross
is to them that perish
but unto us
which are saved
it is the
power of God.
I Corinthians 1:18 (KJV)
Finding Meaning in the Grind
Rev. Bradley J. Stevens
Mon, April 27, 2009
In Ecclesiastes, the Preacher poses the question: What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:3)
His frustration resonates with many of us today as salaries, savings, retirement accounts, investment portfolios, and property values seem to go down a bit more each time the sun goes down on another day.
The Preacher seems to speak from a heart of desperation and confusion, doubting the meaning and purpose of his life. It seems pointless even that he has to run on this treadmill existence, going nowhere, gaining nothing — no purpose, no meaning, no reason to persevere. Even if the quality of life is not diminished, there is no forward motion, no increase, no reward for hard work.
The Preacher struggles to find meaning. Yet he knows that, through it all and even in spite of it all, hope is not lost: God is in control, and He will judge our hearts. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 sums it up:
Now all has been heard; here is the heart of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
The purpose of life is not to amass treasure or to make a name for ourselves. In fact, it is the acquisition and consumption of wealth that is often our undoing. Jesus instructed us to avoid laying up treasures for ourselves on earth, lest our hearts desire be corrupted, and to desire that which is eternal and enduring.
Making a name for ourselves may build us up, but doing so may well endanger our relationship and faithful dependency on the grace of God. John expressed the heart of devotion and faith when he declared, “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30) It is not a worthy aspiration for believers that we should build up ourselves. Jesus died to reconcile us to Himself, not for our own glory but that we might become a part of His glory.
If we, as believers, choose to build up ourselves, then we choose to deny Christ in us. He is the goal and purpose of life. He is the gain of a faithful, transformed life. We will bring our life into order when we can echo Paul: For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
If we would join the Preacher in the quest for the meaning of life, then let us look not to our accounts and portfolios, to our education and careers, or to our achievements and accolades. If we would know the meaning of life, then let us look to the author of life and embrace the Way, the Truth, and the Life, without Whom no one is reconciled to the Father. (John 14:6)
No one will ever find the true meaning of Life, except through Jesus.
Where are you looking for meaning? Maybe it is time to look to Jesus, the only real Truth.
God bless you,
©2009 Bradley J. Stevens