Four Philosophical Diversions that Impede Living Life on Purpose.

Ecclesiastes 1:3-11 could be interpreted quite negatively. If the purpose of the book is to help us know how to live with joy, this cannot be the ultimate interpretation. This passage exemplifies 4 thought patterns that can rob our joy. Unbelievers can approach these negatively or positively. How should believers respond to these thoughts?

These verses make repeated reference to the consistent patterns of Creation. These affect all people whether they acknowledge God or not (Matthew 5:45). Believers can know the purpose behind God's creation (Psalm 19:1-6, Romans 1:20).

The sun and rain continued in the same patterns for generations before we were born, and they will continue after we're gone. This reality shows our own transitory nature as humans. This can lead people to conclude that life is meaningless, or that they need to get all they can in this short time. These are conclusions drawn from human wisdom.

Life is brief, so it is to be lived according to God's intentions. His commandments help us truly enjoy life. Left to ourselves, we can find temporary happiness, but never ultimate fulfillment.

Though life is brief, God is faithful. We only have a short time to live with divine wisdom and joy. As one author said, "The Christian life is as much about living faithfully in God-given reality as it is about waiting expectantly for the dawning of a new reality that God will one day initiate." Only God's grace can make sense out of the effects of sin on our world.

By identifying bad patterns to avoid, we can find 4 ways to live life with purpose.

Zero-Profit View of Life (Ecclesiastes 1:3)

The repetition of life can make us wonder, What is the ultimate value of all I have? The world often answers this question with a fatalistic hedonism, materialism fueled by depression. These questions become more bothersome as we grow older and look back over the purpose of our life accomplishments.

A godly disposition approaches work for a higher reason. We use the resources God gives us for His eternal purposes. Life is not about the accumulations of a lifestyle. We pursue joy through obedience in our work as in every aspect of life. We work so that others can know Jesus, whether they are family we provide for, coworkers, friends in the community, or those reached by our local church. If all we have belongs to God, we must invest our portion for eternity (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Application Points

  • Christians can be great hoarders. How much do you really need to live?

  • How can you be more creative with your material resources to make eternal friends?

  • How does an eternal perspective change your outlook on work?
  • Are you retired? You can still do eternal work! How can you use your resources of time and money to introduce others to Jesus?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 1:21, 1 Corinthians 10:31, 2 Corinthians 4:7, Genesis 2:15, 3:17-19, Ephesians 5:15-16, Colossians 3:23, 1 Peter 2:18 – We need God's perspective on work.
A Hymn to Encourage: "For the Sake of His Name"

Go to the world for the sake of His name;
To every nation His glory proclaim.
Pray that the Spirit wise
Will open darkened eyes,
Granting new life to display Jesus’ fame.

In Jesus’ power, preach Christ to the lost;
For Jesus’ glory, count all else but loss.
Gather from every place
Trophies of sov’reign grace.
Lest life be wasted, exalt Jesus’ cross.

Love the unloved for the sake of His name;
Like Christ, befriend those whose heads hang in shame.
Jesus did not condemn,
But was condemned for them.
Trust gospel pow’r, for we once were the same.

Rescue the lost for the sake of His name;
As Christ commands, snatch them out of the flame.
Tell that when Jesus died
God’s wrath was satisfied.
Urge them to flee to the Lamb who was slain.

Look to the Throne for the sake of His name;
Think of the throng who will share in His reign.
Some for whose souls we pray
Will share our joy that day,
Joining our song for the sake of His name!

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