We live in a culture marked by the passionate pursuit of pleasure, regardless of the circumstances or the cost. It doesn’t take long to discover that even when we get the pleasure we have been pursuing, it never ultimately delivers on its promises. This truth goes back to the beginning of time; the serpent in the Garden promised Eve “more” of the good things in this life if she would just ignore God and decide for herself what was best for her life, but it ended in “less” . . . so much less! Men and women and boys and girls have been rediscovering this timeless truth for millennia.
The Wise Preacher made this principle perfectly clear.
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. . . . I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine . . . Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure. . . . Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
(Ecclesiastes 2:1, 3, 10a, 11 NKJV)
When Solomon referred to “pleasure” here, he was speaking of sinful self-indulgence. He made it clear that meaninglessness comes, not from disappointment or tragedy, but from our passionate pursuit of pleasure. Solomon said all self-indulgence is vanity (that is, meaninglessness, emptiness, futility) and grasping for the wind.
Who among us can grasp a handful of wind? In other words, what we are seeking in the pursuit of our pleasure—meaning, significance, purpose, satisfaction, fulfillment—will never be found in the stuff of life, even the good stuff of life. The good things in this life are simply gifts from God, and He never intended for us to find our meaning, purpose, satisfaction, and fulfillment in the gifts He has given . . . even the very best of gifts, such as marriage and child-rearing.
God Himself is the true gift we have been given; only in Him will we find what matters most in this life. Apart from God, no matter how much we accumulate, we will always be left with less than we had hoped for. And so, at the end of his book of wisdom, Solomon gave us the most important instruction for finding meaning in life:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13 NKJV)
True, lasting pleasure is found only in God. The fear of God is a feeling of reverence and awe that keeps Him seated on the throne of our lives. Placing God anywhere else, and we will live in a perpetual state of meaninglessness. He is the way and the truth and the life!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!