“I said to myself, “Come now, I will make a test of pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my mind how to cheer my body with wine–my mind still guiding me with wisdom–and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works; I built houses and planted vineyards for myself; I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house; I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces; I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, man’s delight. So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.'”
The book of Ecclesiastes has always resonated with me because it speaks so plainly about life. The whole book is about man’s search for meaning and happiness, without having God involved in their life. It speaks so accurately about striving, gaining and seeking to serve self; we think that happiness and or meaning will be achieved with the next project, or new purchase, or next acquisition. We can be so busy with life that we do not take the time to look up and consider that maybe the meaning of life is not a “thing” or “the next accomplishment” but rather a spiritual relationship with God our Father. Even as believers we can lose sight of our relationship with God due to our busyness.
God has a higher purpose for man than the constant striving for meaningless possessions. Our spiritual relationship with God is what our meaning is all about. Even the author of Ecclesiastes, who did not keep his eyes from any pleasure, comes to this conclusion: “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.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14).