Present Life Not the All-Important Thing
WHILE it is good to make one’s life as long and happy as possible, there are limitations even to this. It is not good to make this life everything, to do just anything to stay alive. Nor is it wise to pursue goals with such fervor that right principles are ignored, that God is left out of the picture, or that any hope of life in the future is excluded.
For example, some people count it all-important merely to stay alive. They are willing to go against all the standards that they believe in, even violating their own consciences to keep from dying. This was demonstrated during the Nazi war-criminal trials, when the defendants answered to charges of brutality and even mass murder of innocent people by saying that they ‘did it because of fear of their superiors in the Nazi command.’ With them the Bible’s words were proved to be outstandingly true, that they “for fear of death were subject to slavery.” (Heb. 2:15) Certainly a life prolonged a few years through slavery to fear is not a desirable one.
Neither is a life a good or happy one if it is devoted solely to the gaining of a great name. Some have sought to leave a monument of some kind, so that their name might achieve “immortality.” Or they have enslaved themselves to a career or to a pursuit and have become so involved that they do not have time for real enjoyment of life; or they neglect the spiritual aspect of life. Others have made enjoyment of life their whole objective, only to come to the close of their life with a feeling of emptiness.
The Result of Thorough Investigation and Experimentation
King Solomon, famed as one of the wisest and richest men ever to live on earth, made a careful investigation of the pursuits of mankind and their result to the individual. Solomon had the wealth, power and facilities to undertake a thorough study of this matter. He avoided the immoral and sordid things, which may appear pleasurable but bring no real satisfying or lasting happiness. But he did try the pleasurable pursuits that wealth and power could afford. He says:
“I engaged in greater works. I built houses for myself; I planted vineyards for myself. I made gardens and parks for myself, and I planted in them fruit trees of all sorts. . . . I acquired menservants and maidservants . . . Also, livestock, cattle and flocks in great quantity I came to have . . . I accumulated also silver and gold for myself, and property peculiar to kings . . . I made male singers and female singers for myself and the exquisite delights of the sons of mankind, a lady, even ladies. . . . And anything that my eyes asked for I did not keep away from them. I did not hold back my heart from any sort of rejoicing, for my heart was joyful because of all my hard work.”
Yet, what was the result? Solomon tells us:
“And I, even I, turned toward all the works of mine that my hands had done and toward the hard work that I had worked hard to accomplish, and, look! everything was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing of advantage under the sun.”—Eccl. 2:4-11.
Seeing the futility of pleasure and the building of great works, Solomon looked at those who had human wisdom, including himself, and the results in this life to the person who has become known for his wisdom. He expressed the situation that he then faced:
“I myself said in my heart: ‘An eventuality like that upon the stupid one will eventuate to me, yes, me.’ Why, then, had I become wise, I overmuch so at that time? And I spoke in my heart: ‘This too is vanity.’ For there is no more remembrance of the wise one than of the stupid one to time indefinite. In the days that are already coming in [as a person ages], everyone is certainly forgotten; and how will the wise one die? Along with the stupid one.”—Eccl. 2:15, 16.
Solomon finally says:
“The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man. For the true God himself will bring every sort of work into the judgment in relation to every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad.”—Eccl. 12:13, 14.
So, even though an objective may be commendable, a pursuit of it to the point of neglecting our own really important interests, not allowing ourselves time or opportunity to think of what God has in mind as to mankind’s future, actually ends up in vanity. Certainly the world goes on unthankful, and eventually forgetful and unappreciative. And finally the individual has gone out of existence. So, is there a future beyond death to which he could have looked?
[Blurb on page 10]
In Nazi war-criminal trials, defendants admitted to violating consciences because of fear of death
[Blurb on page 11]
A life devoted entirely to pleasure results in emptiness
[Blurb on page 11]
Wealthy King Solomon, after observation and experience, recommended: “Fear the true God and keep his commandments” as the wise course for humans