The Bible’s Viewpoint
What Is the Purpose of Life?
MANY who have achieved fame and fortune have found that their “success” did not guarantee happiness. Something was missing in their life, but what?
Those too busy earning a living or making a name for themselves to worry about why we are here, could get a shock on attaining their sought-after goal. With newfound prestige, life can suddenly get disoriented and wearisome if it lacks a noble purpose. This point impressed wealthy King Solomon: “I, even I, turned toward all . . . that I had worked hard to accomplish, and, look! everything was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing of advantage.”—Ecclesiastes 2:11.
Many of us would be delighted to accomplish a fraction of the projects this brilliant and energetic king had to his credit. (Ecclesiastes 2:4-9) Apparently, though, even today our personal success is “not strongly related to over-all happiness,” according to Columbia University (U.S.A.) researchers. What does help? “Confidence in one’s guiding values,” their study finds, “a belief that life has meaning.” Sadly, all too many people quit searching for such meaning and think instead of ending their life.
Suicidal thoughts, in fact, troubled one in every three top-ranking American students, according to a 1987 survey. Why? Because these apparently successful student leaders felt personally worthless, under pressure to achieve, or isolated and lonely. Yes, to feel happy with ourselves, we need a sense of self-worth—a meaningful life, a superior goal in life, or simply a good reason to live.
We Are Here for Good Reason
You never have to look far for proof that life is no accident. Think deeply about commonplace things—the intricate design of a leaf, the birth of a baby, the awesome universe. The natural conclusion is inescapable that someone designed these things for a reason. “His invisible qualities are clearly seen . . . by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.”—Romans 1:20.
So people ask, “Why are we here?” Canadian physician William Osler hit on the basic answer when he said: “We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from it.” (Italics ours.) One Christian, pressed for an answer in 25 words or less, replied: “I suppose you could say we’re here to make the earth a paradise.”* (Genesis 1:28; 2:8, 15) But—make a paradise? Are we humans equal to such a task?
We Have Only Just Begun!
Our present life span allows us barely to scratch the surface of what we are designed to do. Think of the 100 billion or so nerve cells and other cells in your brain. The number of connections that these cells can make with one another is an estimated 10 800. This number is a staggering 10 700 times the number of atoms in the universe! Imagine what you could learn and do if you could travel at leisure, take an eternity to study subjects that interest you, and develop talents or skills of your choice. What potential for human enrichment might lie untapped in each of us?
But if you had unlimited time and assets with which to develop your capabilities, could you avoid getting bored? Yes—by discerning, as Solomon finally did, that self-gratification quickly gets tiresome!
Solomon’s remedy? “Remember, now, your Grand Creator,” he counseled. Otherwise, the days will inevitably come when you will say: “I have no delight in them.” Similarly, Jesus said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13; Acts 20:35.
The Key to Satisfaction
Thus, Jesus reasoned that life has two great priorities, first to “love Jehovah your God” and second to love “your neighbor as yourself.” This agrees with everything we know about the interdependence of animal and plant life. Since all these lower life-forms are made to depend so much on one another, does it not make sense that we humans with our vast potential are made to cooperate with one another and serve the very Source of life, Jehovah?—Matthew 22:37-39; Psalm 36:9.
Endless loving accomplishments—bonding our relationship with people and with God—will keep our lives meaningful forever. This happy giving is the key to a satisfying life now and in the coming “new earth.”—Isaiah 65:17, 18.
See the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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Everlasting Life—Boon or Curse?
Physicist-author Dr. Robert Jastrow was asked, “Would everlasting life be a boon or a curse to mankind?” His reply? “It would be a blessing to those who have curious minds and an endless appetite for learning. The thought that they have forever to absorb knowledge would be very comforting for them. But for others who feel they have learned all there is to learn and whose minds are closed, it would be a dreadful curse. They’d have no way to fill their time.”—Times-Advocate, Escondido, California, February 19, 1984.
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The human brain was designed to serve us eternally