Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 – Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
It is amazing how relevant the Bible is to the world that we are living in today. It really should be no surprise to us considering the author is God. And yet as we read the words penned by the Preacher, Solomon, over and over we are reminded of the true nature of the human condition apart from God.
What Solomon expresses as a theme in the first three verses of the book, all is vanity and what profit has a man of all his labor, is expressed by many today with the question “is life really worth living?” I like how the New Living translation expresses the idea of vanity, “everything is meaningless…completely meaningless.”
Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon looks a life with all of its complexities, its seeming contradictions, and wonders if all of the immeasurable blood and sweat that people put into life is really worth it. The observation is made that people work all of their lives and then die. At the end someone less worthy will inherit their wealth and potentially waste it all.
In the first two verses of chapter seven, Solomon points out a seeming contradiction in that it is better to spend your time at funerals than at parties because this is the end of all men. Translation, everyone dies and most people never take the time to think about it until they are at a funeral. Solomon makes his point that a funeral is better than a party because there is something that the living should take to heart.
I am reminded of an interview before the Super Bowl one year with former football player Steve Gleason who had recently been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. When he was asked, “do you think about death since being diagnosis with ALS”, he replied “yes and its a good thing for every human to think of because we all have a timeline.” He went on to say that “most of us don’t live like we have a timeline.”
In Mark 8:36 Jesus expressed this idea when he said “what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul.” The reality is most people live their whole life and never consider the end, that we all have a timeline. Many people live their life investing in things that have no profit and only lead to emptiness. What Jesus reveals is that the value God places on your life is far greater than most people even consider. Your life has eternal value worth more than all this world has to offer.
When we come to Christ, our labor in life is not in vain, it is not empty and meaningless. Life now can be lived with tremendous value and purpose. Like Solomon we can conclude that the best thing to do is to enjoy the blessings of God, to fear God, and to obey his commandments. We are to live as those who will one day face judgment because death is not the end. We can now rejoice in and be thankful for the blessings of God in our life and uses our lives to glorify Jesus. Not living to lay treasure up on this earth that will one day rot and come to an end, but to live our lives investing in our eternal future in heaven, for an inheritance reserved in heaven that fades not away.