Finding Meaning in the Meaningless
by Christian Thomas Golden
If all of what we do in this life is truly meaningless (as the teacher said throughout Ecclesiastes), why should we feel motivated to do anything but that which will immediately serve to please us? Why should we feel motivated to do what’s right? In fact, why should we feel compelled to surrender to any sort of moral code?
Ah, but the Teacher did not stop at that.
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.”
Yes! So I’m right: let’s just have fun! But he goes on to conclude with:
Ecclesiastes 12:13 “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.”
This is further clarified in Matthew 22:35-40 “One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So, yes, what we do in and of this world is meaningless. We, however, are specifically instructed against being of this world, though we must live in it (John 17:13-16 and Romans 12:2).
The primary commandment, to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” is calling for action in what realm: of this world, or of the spiritual? Clearly, so long as we agree that God does not contradict himself, this is a call to action in the spiritual realm.
Now, how do we as beings living in the world commit actions that are not of the world? Since I am living, breathing, acting, reacting, eating, tripping, falling, and walking in this world, but does it then follow that each action I take in this world is of this world? Well, I sure hope not since it would render me incapable to thinking or doing anything for God (after all He’s done for me).
However, I don’t know my God to be some cruel dictator. Though we might be committing acts in this world, that does not mean that they do not have root in the spiritual. When a homeless man asks for money, but I give him food, surely this interaction is taking place in this world. Surely, the nutrition this man absorbs from this sandwich is in this world. However, does that then mean that this act has no utility but to satisfy a need of this world?
Each act has the potential to be rooted in that one commandment: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
That’s the beauty of living a spirit-lead life; you now have the ability to choose to make decisions which serve two purposes simultaneously: natural and supernatural – in this world, yet not of this world.
All we do in this world is meaningless of this world, yet we have the power – through the Word of God – to do these things with the purpose of reciprocating the love God gives us back to Him.
Act out of love, not fear. Be motivated by truth, not frustration. Plant yourself in joy, not hopelessness. God is with you wherever you go. As you begin to build a relationship with Him and acknowledge His presence in all things, you will inevitably experience a drop in fear, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and other negative motivators which previously compelled you to act or refrain from acting.
Finally, allow the meaningfulness of the spiritual to drive you to act in the natural.
As I do this more, the meaningless will become meaningful.