Summary: Many are desperately searching for true meaning in this life. The answer is found in this passage of Scripture.
FINDING THE MEANING IN LIFE
TEXT: ECCLESIASTES. 1:1,2
INTRO: One of the funniest catchphrases of recent years is from an old Wendy’s commercial. An elderly woman and her friends open their hamburger buns and found them virtually bare. The perceptive old lady, who was able to see beyond the obvious, asked, "Where’s the beef?"
Many people ask this same question about life. They find themselves sandwiched between birth and death, and , unfortunately, they often find themselves in a sandwich without substance--a sandwich with no meat. Struggling to find identity, to find meaning in life, they ask, "Where’s the beef?"
ILL: To many life is like a touchdown scored after the whistle has blown. They fight to gain ground. They struggle to get to the end-zone. They score that touchdown, achieve their victory in life, only to discover that it doesn’t count. Maybe your have felt that--that life is all pushing for yardage but never making a first down, reaching for the long pass but having it intercepted.
Striving for the meaning in life is often frustrating. Leading us to give in to so many temptations in hopes of bringing satisfaction. This is exactly what Satan wants. He will try every trick in the book to find the chink in a believer’s armor. And no matter what his method, his goal is simple: to keep the believer from finding the real meaning in life.
The whole book of Ecclesiastes is dedicated to exploring the difference between life and existence. God choose Solomon to write this so important book. Looking back in his life Solomon was asking, "Who am I?" "Why am I here?" "Where am I going?"
He begins this book by stating that all is empty, vain, without substance. But lets not stop there He hoes have a positive message for each of us no matter what our age or lifestyle.
He tried it all and evaluates three of the major themes in life.
I. DOES PLEASURE PROVIDE PURPOSE? 2:1
A. I sought in my heart to give myself unto wine" vs.3
1. Would’ve been at home in our society
2. Today we have many extra drugs to try.
3. He was a thrill seeker. Trying to fill a void in his life. So many are desperately trying to find solutions to the problems of meaningless lives, but their solutions lead only to bigger problems.
a. However many will never live long enough to experience victory or defeat.
b. 4.6 million adolescents from 14-17yrs. Experience the negative consequences of alcohol each year. Yet nothing new. Vs.1 All it vanity.
B. I made me great works vs.4-10
1. There was nothing he didn’t do.
2. He didn’t go to the party; he brought the party to himself. But when the party was over he was alone.
ILL: Ever wait eagerly for something special then find that when the time came it was really a let down? Ever try to catch the wind? It’s an exercise in frustration. Every time you grab, it slips through your fingers.
3. How many of us like King Solomon are grabbing for things that are impossible to hold onto and are worthless?
4. This generation has so many new opportunities that previous generations never dreamed. But new opportunities have not given new meaning to life. The mere accumulation of things will not and cannot provide meaning and purpose in life.
All the wealth that Solomon had, he still could only say "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity."
II. DOES KNOWLEDGE PROVIDE PURPOSE?
He decided that it is better to be smart than ignorant. So he set out to become well-educated.
A. I turned myself to behold wisdom vs 12-14
He achieved his goal. I Kings 3:12
1. Did his vast knowledge and wisdom give him a reason for living? No. In fact, it probably made him even more miserable. He realized that his fate was no different than that of the biggest fool in town. In spite of his knowledge and riches he would still die just like the poor ignorant bum in the gutter.
2. His Ph.D. in world knowledge was no protection from life’s misfortunes and from death. He decided that education, too was vanity.
B. NOTE: Let me point out that even though one cannot find the true meaning of life in education, an education is still essential in life.
1. We live in a highly educated society. Knowledge has abounded.
2. Without at least a high school education a person will find it extremely difficult to find a satisfying job of any kind.
3. There is no denying that education is very important, but the point that Solomon was making when he wrote these words is that it can’t give meaning to life. Education can improve the quality of life, but, ultimately, it can’t make life worth living.