Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
Meaning . . . what does it really mean or how do you define it? The dictionary defines it as “the end, purpose, or significance of something.” Life seems empty when there is no meaning. One of the most difficult things to do as a pastor is to help people find meaning in places or spaces in their life where they can’t seem to find any – illness, loss of a job, etc. We yearn for meaning in our lives, for there to be some purpose. The great writer and humanitarian Elie Weisel has spent his life trying to wrestle with questions of meaning and tragedy as a Holocaust survivor. Viktor Frankl also wrote about his experiences as a concentration camp survivor and finding meaning in his suffering in Man’s Search for Meaning.
Our quest for meaning takes us to many places. The better way to say it is that we proactively move and search for meaning throughout the world and our lives. We search for meaning through our vocation, our family, our finances, or in more unhealthy ways – through addiction, etc. The thing that we realize is that the more we search for it, the more elusive it becomes and frustration sets in.
This search for true meaning is addressed throughout Solomon’s book Ecclesiastes. Throughout the book Solomon owns up to his own frustration to find true meaning and purpose for his own life: wisdom, riches, etc provided no meaning for Solomon. The story could have ended in a pretty unhelpful fashion with the reader left scratching their heads. Right before this happens, Solomon wraps up the text with a great where to find true meaning – we find true meaning in fearing God and keeping his commandments. This fear is a holy fear, understanding and accepting that God is holy and we are not. Because we understand this we are driven to keep His commandments. We are not motivated to keep them out of love for the law or fulfilling the law, but out of our love for Christ and what He has done for us. True meaning is found in following Jesus.