A man's life


Village Sponsor
By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC Weekly, 2005-01-30

Text: Luke 12:15

For many people living in the world today, life is nothing more than the pursuit of material wealth. In our land, this pursuit is often translated into obtaining the proverbial 5 Cs that epitomize the typical Singaporean standard of living. If this is the trend you are following, listen to the words spoken by Jesus Christ: "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." (Luke 12:15)

Futile Pursuits

This verse appears at the end of the parable of the rich fool, a parable that was told to show us how futile it is to pursue material wealth. Against this pursuit, the Bible has much to say. E.g. Psalm 37:16 "A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked." Proverbs 15:16 "Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith."

These verses of Scripture give us the much needed warning not to make material wealth our main pursuit in life, because a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. But then comes the question: What does a man's life consist of? What is life really for? This is the most basic question to be asked in the study of philosophy. And it has been answered in many ways. The hedonistic philosophy of life is to "Eat drink and be merry." But this only results in futility as the parable of the rich fool demonstrates. Some say that life consists in doing good works for others and for society.

But this too results in futility, because we live in an evil world of sin that cannot be changed permanently by any amount of altruism or social action. The wars that have been fought and the atrocities that have been wrought even in this supposedly enlightened modern era, demonstrate how futile it is to live just for the betterment of mankind. One existentialist French philosopher named Sartre was so disillusioned by all this that he concluded that human life is simply absurd. There is no meaning in life! Human life consists of nothing!

Solomon's Assessment

It is interesting to note that the same conclusion was reached by Solomon in his book, Ecclesiastes. Since Solomon was the richest and wisest man in his time, he had the rare opportunity to do something that very few can ever do, and that is to make an objective assessment of every pursuit of life. And the conclusion that he reached when he considered life only as it is ("under the sun"), without taking God's revealed Word into account, is this: It is all vanity and vexation of spirit! (Ecclesiastes 1:14,17)

In some parts of the book, Solomon seems to say that since life is meaningless, man should therefore just live for the present, e.g. 2:24 "There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour." (Also 3:12 and 9:7-9). These verses seem to say that life consists in simply enjoying ourselves in simple daily activities such as eating, working, sleeping, etc. But it is important to note that in the first ten chapters of the book, Solomon was looking at life from a limited viewpoint, defined by the words, "under the sun" (e.g. 1:3,9,14) that is, life apart from God and without the benefit of knowing God's revelation.

Solomon's real conclusion is found only at the end of the book, where he warns his readers to "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." (12:1) The truth of the whole matter that comes out only at the end, is that the daily things in life cannot be properly enjoyed by themselves. They can only be truly enjoyed when God, the Creator, becomes the source and the object of that joy. This is why the Word of God says in 1 Timothy 6:6, "But godliness with contentment is great gain." Contentment alone is not enough - it must be combined together with godliness in order to be valuable.

How to Make Your Life Worth Living

This then is the important factor we must include in life to make it worth living. What does a man's life consist of? Man's life consists of God Himself. God must be very much included in your life if you are to find meaning and joy in life. The apostle Paul said, "For to me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). Dear Reader, does your life consist in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is Christ your life? Let us consider some practical ways we can apply this principle of including the Lord in our daily living.

Firstly, always give thanks to God for your daily activities. Thank God sincerely for the food you eat at mealtimes (but please do not let this become a meaningless routine). Thank God for the strength He gives you to do your work or to study. When you wake up in the morning thank Him for giving you rest and sleep. Thank God each time you travel on the bus or MRT and reach your destination safely. And thank God even when things do not turn out the way you expect, and you face setbacks and disappointments. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says: "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Why should you give thanks to God even for the ordinary and seemingly unimportant things in life? Because it reminds you that without God, it is entirely impossible for you to live and carry on each day's work and activity. Your subsistence and even your very existence depends upon Him every passing day. As God's Word says in Acts 17:28 "For in Him we live and move and have our being."

Do you know that God is involved with, and concerned about the ordinary things that you do each day? He cares about the way you get up in the morning and prepare yourself for the day, the way that you eat, the way that you relate to your family, friends and colleagues, the way that you work or study or play, and the way that you use your resources, spend your income and your time. And whenever you give thanks to God for everything that He enables you to do, you are reminded of your responsibility to do all of these things in a proper manner.

This brings us to the second way in which we must apply the principle of including God in our daily living: The Word of God tells us that ALL things, even the seemingly insignificant little activities in life like eating and drinking, must be done for the glory of God. This is stated in 1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Learn to glorify the Lord in whatever you do. One of the ways in which we glorify God is to do them well. Solomon himself tells us in Ecclesiastes 9:10 "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." And Colossians 3:23 tells us "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." Let us seek to do everything with the best of our ability, to please the Lord, and not to please men or even to please ourselves. And that means that when you work, you should not seek to do no more and no less than what you are paid to do, but you should do your best even in the things that no one ever notices, because there is One who is constantly observing and assessing everything that you do - and that is the Lord Himself!

If you are studying and have assignments to do and tests to take, do them well by all means for the Lord. If you are cooking a meal or washing the dishes, do it as unto the Lord. Everything you do, no matter how small or great, becomes a blessing, when you do it for the Lord.

Another way in which you can glorify God is to give praise and credit to the Lord for anything that is done well. If anyone praises you or gives glowing compliments for your work, do not take credit for it at all, but give all the credit to God. Let Him receive all the glory and praise for your work.

This then becomes the real meaning and joy of living for us: Life finds fullness in carrying out any task, even the seemingly ordinary and common things in life for God your Creator. Your joy of living comes from knowing that God is pleased with, and glorified in all that you are doing. And this in turn results from applying the principle of including God in your daily life, by giving thanks to Him for everything and by glorifying Him in everything.

The Final Answer

Now that we have seen this principle of including God in our daily living, let us see how this knowledge now informs our understanding of the passages we saw earlier on, especially Ecclesiastes 2:24 "There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God."

Now we can see the final answer to the problem of finding true meaning and joy in life, which this verse begins to address. Real contentment, satisfaction and joy comes not just by eating, drinking and making one's soul enjoy good in his labour alone, but rather, by eating, drinking, labouring and doing everything always to please God and glorify Him.

Dear Reader, are you experiencing a truly meaningful and joyful life? Have you applied the philosophy of life that you have now gained from God's Word, which tells you that you must include God fully in your life, even in seemingly ordinary routine things like your work, study and play? Are you seeking to glorify the Lord and to please Him in everything that you do?

The Basic Prerequisite

It must also be mentioned that God has reserved this joy of life to be experienced only by those who have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ. If you are not saved, you cannot have this joy, because as long as you are still in your sins, nothing that you do can be pleasing or glorifying to God. Isaiah 64:6 "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags."

But once you have turned to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, you can begin to live a new life with His power, a life that is truly pleasing and glorifying to God. Jesus Himself has said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) So please, if you have not yet received Jesus, let me urge you not to delay this any longer: Turn to Him with all your heart and be saved today!