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Whether Vain

"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." Ecclesiastes 1:2

Vanity of vanities," lamented Solomon, "all is vanity!" (According to the KJV of v. 2). Solomon liked that word "vanity"; he used it in some form thirty-eight times in Ecclesiastes as he wrote about everyday life. The word means emptiness, futility, vapor, that which vanishes quickly and leaves nothing behind.

From the human point of view ("under the sun," v. 3), life does appear futile, and it is easy for us to get pessimistic. The Jewish writer Sholom Aleichem once described life as "a blister on top of a tumor, and a boil on top of that." We can almost feel that definition!

The American poet Carl Sandburg compared life to "an onion--you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep." And Irish-born British playwright George Bernard Shaw said that life is "a series of inspired follies."

What a relief to turn from these pessimistic views and hear Jesus Christ say, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). Or to read Paul's majestic declaration, "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Cor. 15:58). Life is not in vain if it is lived according to the will of God, and that is what Solomon teaches in this neglected and often misunderstood book.

Applying God's Truth:

  1. Have you ever gone through periods when you considered your life and felt that all was vanity (meaningless)?

  2. How would you define your current philosophy of life in a couple of sentences?

  3. What relationships and activities provide the most meaning in your life?

Devotions for Contentment and Wisdom ©2005 by Dr. Warren Wiersbe. Used by permission of David C Cook. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

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