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Two Questions that will Lead to a Meaningful Life

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

It is possible to invest one's entire life into meaningless things. Hence, perhaps, the easiest way for this to happen: spend your time, talent, treasure, and influence trying to make a name for yourself. With a philosophical tone, the writer of Ecclesiastes teaches that such actions become equivalent to trying to grab the wind. As a result, you’re left feeling empty-handed, exhausted, and disappointed. In other words, meaningless.

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. -Ecclesiastes 4:4 (NIV)

We’ve all heard it, “Keeping up with the Joneses…” It implies staying ahead of those around us; better cars, houses, jobs, education...But spending your life trying to get ahead of someone else results in living a meaningless life. Because ultimately, it’s always “someone else” that you must catch and surpass. Metaphorically, it’s like chasing after the wind. You’re not going to take hold of what you're chasing.

Thankfully, there is an alternative that can result in peace, fulfillment, and even significance. You can live your life doing good works. This decision will fill your life with purpose.

I once spoke to the Kansas City Chiefs during a chapel service. In prayer, preparing for my time with them, I felt many of the players had been taken advantage of in various ways. They were big, strong men, not easily intimidated. But, many of them had wanted to do good in their neighborhoods; however, greedy, manipulative people had taken advantage of their generosity. I sensed the result of these experiences was that some of them were backing away from charitable living, thus subtracting meaning from their wealth. I have no idea if my discernment was correct, but I felt so strongly about it that I borrowed the words of Mother Teresa to encourage them:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.

Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.

Create anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.

Give your best anyway.

The good you do today will often be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

-Mother Teresa

Even though the world is not always a nice place, we must be people who value doing good for others. God does not give us an “out” when it comes to doing good works. Unfortunately, there will always be people who take advantage of others' kindness and willingness to do good in the world. This can be discouraging but should never deter us from doing good. We should always choose to do good anyway.

If you haven’t already had the opportunity to watch last week's message, God Is...Light, I would invite you to do so. In that message, I shared how:

  • We RECEIVE the light by BELIEVING God’s Word.

  • We RELEASE the light by OBEYING God’s Word.

Are you releasing light into the World by doing the GOOD WORKS of God’s Word?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)

Obeying God’s Word -- doing good works -- allows us to shine spiritual light into the world around us! When you love God, you release light into the world. When you love people, you release light into the world. And the world ends up a brighter place for everyone! Without these actions, our faith is equivocally dead.

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead… -James 2:26 (NKJV)

The summary, if you're not doing good works, your faith is dead. We should be clothing the naked, feeding the poor, caring for the prisoners, widows, and orphans. But, don’t get it twisted; we can not earn our salvation through good works. Instead, we are saved by the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Yet, it is essential to understand that Heaven records our good works here on Earth. And, God has chosen the mechanism of our good works to introduce people to His light. So, activate your faith! And, keep D. L. Moody’s humorous but true statement in mind:

I’m glad we are not saved by our good works because I don’t want to sit in Heaven listening to people brag about how they got there.

– D. L. Moody

The New Testament is full of references on how important it is for Christians to do good. Paul speaks on this topic multiple times across seven of his New Testament letters. Here are three of his references:

They profess to know God, but in works, they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

-Titus 1:16 (NKJV)

That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.

- Colossians 1:10 (NKJV)

That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

-2 Timothy 3:17 (NKJV)

The culmination of these three statements, always do good works to glorify the name of God. This approach to life is what brings true meaningfulness to our human existence.

In twenty-one years of pastoring followers of Jesus, I’ve come to learn that there are TWO QUESTIONS we can ask ourselves repetitively to make sure that our good works stay properly centered; making the main thing the main thing:

1- WHY am I doing it?
2- WHO am I doing it for?

Answering these questions honestly and correctly becomes increasingly crucial because when you start to obey God’s Word and shine light into the world, you are going to be the answer to someone's prayers! So, we must never forget that our good works should never glorify ourselves, but always glorify God. Otherwise, the light doesn’t shine. If the works become about bringing glory to you rather than God, personal burnout is assured. God won’t FUEL your empire, but he will FILL His Kingdom. Jesus told us so, “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you.” So, keep your heart and perspective in check, and know: 1) who you are doing it for, and 2) why you are doing it. Because everything we do is meaningless unless we are doing it for God and His glory!

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. -Ecclesiastes 4:4 (NIV)

Every gift, every particular skill, directly results from how God created you and blessed you. You were placed exactly where you are right now, for such a time as this, so that God could use your gifts, skills, and influence to do good works. You are blessed to be a blessing to others! Allow God’s involvement in your works, and great things will happen as a result! Let him use your time, talent, treasure, and influence!

Consider ceasing your pursuit of an uncatchable wind and lean into finding true meaning within your life. If you want your life to have meaning and be radiant, you will need to chase the right wind. We do this by loving God, loving people, and building only one name, the name above all names, the name of Jesus Christ.

Think about this Scriptural statement, “The name above every other name….” We know “that name” is Jesus. Will you allow this Heavenly proclamation to be fulfilled in your life? Will you place His name above your name? Don’t ever let the mentality of Babel’s builders take hold of your purpose: And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” -Genesis 11:4 (NKJV)

Instead, live out the mandate of Hebrews’ commission:

To make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well-pleasing in His sight, through JESUS CHRIST, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. -Hebrews 13:21 (NKJV)

I invite you to view the message I shared on this subject, Chasing After The Wind.


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