The Search for Significance
The meaning of life. Ever wonder what the point of it all is, anyway? Since day one there has been the search for the meaning of life, which has always centered around man’s perspective in his own search for significance. But the problem with self-centered theology is that we cannot find any real answers there. And we will not find the answers in and of ourselves. Life’s biggest questions can only be answered by the Creator of life. And He has not left us without guidance. But He has placed a hunger in all of our souls to cause us to search, hopefully until we find Him and His precious word.
Bible Reading of the Day: Ecclesiastes 1-2
Solomon is in a massive brainstorm getting major brain cramps as he struggles in his mind with the purpose of life. Depending on the translation you are reading from, you will see that Solomon has a favorite word that he comes to, again and again in his description or summary of life.
- The CSB and NET translations render it “futile”.
- The NASB, ESV, NKJV and KJV translations render it as “vanity”.
- The NIV translates it as “meaningless”
- The GNT says it as “useless”.
- And the ISV renders it as “utterly pointless”.
The Search for Significance—Futile
The Hebrew word is “hebel” (pronounced heh’vel), that is in the opening verse of Ecclesiastes 1. Solomon resorted to this word 10 times in the first two chapters and 25 times in the book of Ecclesiastes.
In Strong’s Concordance it means “emptiness or vanity; figuratively, something transitory and unsatisfactory; often used as an adverb: altogether, vain, vanity.
The Search for Significance—Vain
The Theological Workbook for the Old Testament says,
“They went after vanities and “became vain.” (NIV; “They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.”) Two inexorable principles are illustrated here: (1) every man takes on to some degree the character and nature of the God he worships; (2) the characteristic of all false gods is that they destroy their worshippers.” (Victor P. Hamilton, “463 הָבַל,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 204.)
The Search for Significance—True Understanding
You see if we are not careful, we can let a lie slip in and it becomes a part of our belief system. In our search for significance, we can become jaded by life’s harshness when we look to the creation as our joy rather than the Creator.
We can try to make sense of life and try to define it, but that cannot bring us joy. Understanding life through the eyes of God sets us free from letting life’s ups and downs determine whether or not life is good.
““Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Absolute futility. Everything is futile.” 3 What does a person gain for all his efforts that he labors at under the sun? 4 A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets; panting, it hurries back to the place where it rises. 6 Gusting to the south, turning to the north, turning, turning, goes the wind, and the wind returns in its cycles.
7 All the streams flow to the sea, yet the sea is never full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than anyone can say. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing. 9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Can one say about anything, “Look, this is new”? It has already existed in the ages before us. 11 There is no remembrance of those who came before; and of those who will come after there will also be no remembrance by those who follow them.”
The Search for Significance—Finding Worth in Mundanity
This reminds me of the movie, “Groundhog Day”. The repetitive nature of life can wear us out. OR it can be a comfort.
Really what we are talking about is a search for significance. The daily grind is meaningless unless we have an eternal view. Solomon tries to find significance in several places that turn up empty, futile, meaningless.
- He is frustrated that life is the same old thing, day after day.
- He wants something new. But shiny and new eventually wear out, too.
“Can one say about anything, “Look, this is new”? It has already existed in the ages before us.” (Ecclesiastes 1:10)
The Search for Significance—Not in Fame
- He wants his name to live on. But the desire for significance and or fame should not be our purpose. It’s Jesus’ name that we should want to live on.
“There is no remembrance of those who came before; and of those who will come after there will also be no remembrance by those who follow them.” (Eccl 1:11).
- He searches for significance in his own mind and understanding.
“13 I applied my mind to examine and explore through wisdom all that is done under heaven. God has given people[e] this miserable task to keep them occupied. 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun and have found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind.” (Eccl. 1:13-14)
In short, we are the creation. We do not know more than God. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to lean not on our own understanding. No matter how much we try to find significance with our own mind, we will fall short and it becomes idolatry and discouraging.
The Search for Significance—Solomon’s Errors
For this reason, the search for significance based on our reasoning leaves us empty. No wonder Solomon thought life was futile.
- Solomon gave glory to himself for wisdom.
“16 I said to myself, “See, I have amassed wisdom far beyond all those who were over Jerusalem before me, and my mind has thoroughly grasped wisdom and knowledge.” 17 I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind.” (Eccl 1:16-17)
- Solomon thought significance would be found with wisdom, but wisdom is knowledge applied.
18 For with much wisdom is much sorrow; as knowledge increases, grief increases.” (Eccl. 1:18)
- Solomon sought significance through his own perspective, centered on self.
- Look at all of the “I’s” in this text:
- I said . . .
- I explored with my mind (Eccl. 2:3)
- I increased my achievements (Eccl. 4)
- I made . . . (5)
Friends, everything we have has been given to us. Our wisdom is not ours. Our achievements. There is nothing to be set on self. Eternal gains are superior.
The Search for Significance—The Fruit of Searching in the Wrong Places
Solomon’s approach led to:
- Hating life (Eccl 2:18)
- Control issues (2:19)
- Despair (Eccl 2:20)
In conclusion, this life is not our hope. Jesus is. This life is not about us. Life is good. Truly good. But a life centered on self will lead us to despair. It needs to be centered on someone greater.
Scripture of the Day: Ecclesiastes 1:9
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.”
- Don’t try to find your significance in the creation.
- The Author of creation gives us purpose and significance in this life.
𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝘁𝗼𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗮𝘁 3𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.
Day #299: Ecclesiastes 1-2—The Search for Significance
𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Ecclesiastes 1:9
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