But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. - Ecclesiastes 2:11
Men are more than animals—but that doesn’t mean we are happier. Animals search for food, while men search for meaning. Animals are driven by instinct, men by desire. Animals forage happily in the mud, while men look to the stars and ponder existence. Animals sleep peacefully in holes in the ground, while men toss and turn fitfully on beds of ease. Animals find contentment in little, but men find dissatisfaction in plenty. What are we missing?
Men find some satisfaction in working hard, but we always look for something more. We translate work into money and channel money into everything our heart desires. With money a man can put food on the table and a roof over his head. With more money he can fill his belly with delicacies, his home with treasures, his garage with vintage cars, and his cellar with vintage wine. Money will buy him abundant pleasure. But pleasure generates an appetite for more—grander experiences, bigger thrills, costlier adventures. Then, after desperately pursuing pleasure and purchasing all that money can buy, he retires to his bed and wonders why he is still unfulfilled, why life seems so meaningless.
These are often the musings a successful man has in his heart. Remarkably, these were the same questions that Koheleth, which means “the Teacher,” had about his experiences in antiquity. The questions are not new—they bothered men in bygone yesterdays as much as they do today. This suggests that these struggles for meaning and fulfillment are not the products of circumstances so much as the results of a common human experience of dissatisfaction.
It is true that God “richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Tim. 6:17). Then why is it that man has difficulty finding that enjoyment? It is because he forgets the God who gives the things, and he substitutes the things for God! Man too often trusts in temporal things that pass away, rather than in the eternal Lord from whom all things come.
So what should a man do? He should work as an act of worship to the Lord, who gives him the ability to work. Then he should treat his earnings as treasures that God has committed to him to manage, and he should administer these resources in a way that pleases the Lord. He will discover that the purpose of life is not to make money but to serve and enjoy the God who made everything!
For Further Study: Ecclesiastes 2:1-12
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