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Summary: This sermon deals with how we are to live our lives according to God's purposes, and the tragic consequences when we don't

Living According to God’s Purposes

Ecclesiastes 1:2-15

Last week we looked at seizing those opportunities God places in our lives. To follow up on that teaching today I’d like to look at living our lives according to God’s purposes, and I’d like to do so by starting out with a statement made about King David that has been one of my life verses.

It’s the one verse I’d like to have written on my tombstone.

It’s a scripture that defines what it means to live a great life for the Lord, and it’s found in the book of Acts and what the Apostle Paul’s tells to those at the church of Antioch.

“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep.” (Acts 13:36a NKJV)

I don’t believe this is a morbid statement in any way; rather it’s a scripture that defines a life that should move and motivate us. Can you imagine this being said about us; that we served God’s purpose for this generation and in this community; that we served God’s eternal purpose in a way that changed the lives of those around us?

However, to serve God’s purpose we first need to find out what is God’s purpose.

Throughout the centuries, during times of war, prison commandants have been known to periodically take prisoners and assign them the task of digging a great big hole. They gave them shovels and gunnysacks to dig and carry the dirt to the other side of the compound, often during the heat of the day.

The prisoners would work for months on this project. Finally when the job was completed, and the prisoners were feeling a little satisfaction, the commandant would give them new gunnysacks and told them to refill the hole with the dirt they just dug out.

It’s been recorded that some prisoners went insane. They couldn’t handle it. If they had been moving dirt for a reason that would be one thing, but moving dirt arbitrary, working for months without any purpose had, and still has, the capacity of driving people insane.

As humans we weren’t built like this. We desire a sense of purpose in what we do. So living without purpose is insanity.

Did you know there’s actually a book in the Bible devoted to the insanity of moving dirt piles, that is, the madness of living life without purpose? It’s the Book of Ecclesiastes written by Solomon under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Solomon, the wisest human to have ever lived, tried living his life in various ways trying to give his life purpose.

• He tried living life for possessions, so he went out and accumulated great wealth. He was actually considered the wealthiest person to have ever lived, but he found living life for the purpose of possessions a wasted life.

• Next Solomon tried living life for prestige and power, and he became the most powerful man in the world. Kings and Queens came from around the world just to hear what he had to say, but he found living life for power unfulfilling.

• Finally he tried living life for pleasure. Nothing was withheld from him. He had over 300 concubines and he had built entire cities just to hold his sport cars, which in that day were chariots and horses. But again he found it all without value.

Solomon had lived for everything, but he had no purpose, and so in his book of Ecclesiastes he talks about what happens when we don’t know what the real and true meaning of life is, that is, what is God’s purpose. To his end Solomon gives us five tragic consequences of living a life without purpose.

Five Tragic Consequences

1. Without Purpose Life Seems Useless

Read Ecclesiastes 1:2-4

This word “vanity,” is not what many think. It has nothing to do with having excessive pride in self or appearance. Rather, in the Hebrew the word means, “useless,” or “meaningless.” What Solomon is saying is that living life without purpose is useless and without meaning.

But many people simply want to get by. Their philosophy is to let someone else do it. But this sort of philosophy gives life no purpose and Solomon says that living like this is useless. We need to find God’s purpose and make it our purpose so we can make our lives count, not only for right now, but also for all eternity.

2. Without Purpose Life Seems Tiring

Read Ecclesiastes 1:5-7

Life without purpose is a life that goes around in circles. Solomon gives us three examples of this sort of circular living.

• First is the rotation of the sun. It just keeps coming up and going down.

• Next is the swirling nature of wind and how it blows in a circular pattern.

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