A Meaningful Life Is Possible!
MANY people are living for money and for what it can buy. Some live to make a name in the world. Others live to perfect their artistic skills. There are also those who live to help others. But many do not know what they are living for or why they are here.
What about you? Have you seriously thought about the reason why you are here? Why not consider some human pursuits to see if they really bring a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of satisfaction? What makes a meaningful life possible?
Money and Pleasure Have Their Place
At Ecclesiastes 7:12, the Bible states: “Wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.” Yes, money has value. You need money to live, especially if you have the responsibility to provide for a family.—1 Timothy 5:8.
What is life without some of the pleasures that money can buy? Although Jesus Christ, the Founder of Christianity, admitted that he had nowhere to lay down his head, he did occasionally enjoy choice food and wine. Moreover, he did not refrain from wearing an expensive garment.—Matthew 8:20; John 2:1-11; 19:23, 24.
Yet, Jesus did not live to pursue pleasure. He had his priorities straight. Jesus said: “Even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” He then went on to relate an illustration about a certain rich man who had a bumper crop and who reasoned to himself: “What shall I do, now that I have nowhere to gather my crops? . . . I will tear down my storehouses and build bigger ones, and there I will gather all my grain and all my good things; and I will say to my soul: ‘Soul, you have many good things laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.’” What was wrong with this man’s thinking? The illustration continues: “God said to [the rich man], ‘Unreasonable one, this night they are demanding your soul from you. Who, then, is to have the things you stored up?’” Even if the man stored his crop, when he died he could not enjoy the riches he had accumulated. In conclusion, Jesus gave this lesson to his audience: “So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”—Luke 12:13-21.
Yes, we do need some money, and enjoyment has its place. However, neither money nor pleasure is the most important thing in life. To be rich toward God, that is, to live a life that results in divine favor, is by far the most important thing to pursue.
Is Making a Name Important?
Many people live to make a name for themselves. The desire to make a name, wanting to be remembered by others, is not necessarily bad. “A name is better than good oil,” says the Bible, “and the day of death than the day of one’s being born.”—Ecclesiastes 7:1.
On the day of death, the record of the entire life of a man has been written, so to speak. If he has accomplished positive things, the day of that person’s death is far better than the day of his birth when the record was totally blank.
The writer of the Bible book of Ecclesiastes was King Solomon. Solomon’s older half brother Absalom wanted to make a name for himself. However, his three sons, through whom he could have passed his name on to later generations, apparently died young. So, what did Absalom do? The Scriptures state: “Absalom . . . proceeded to raise up for himself a pillar, which is in the Low Plain of the King, for he said: ‘I have no son in order to keep my name in remembrance.’ So he called the pillar by his own name.” (2 Samuel 14:27; 18:18) The remains of this pillar have not been found. As for Absalom, he is known to students of the Bible as a notorious rebel who conspired to usurp the throne of his father, David.
Many today try to be remembered through what they accomplish. They seek glory in the eyes of people whose tastes fluctuate with each passing season. Yet, what happens to such fame? In the book The Culture of Narcissism, Christopher Lasch writes: “In our time, when success is so largely a function of youth, glamour, and novelty, glory is more fleeting than ever, and those who win the attention of the public worry incessantly about losing it.” As a result, many celebrities resort to the use of drugs and alcohol, often shortening their life. Indeed, it is futile to seek fame.
In whose eyes, then, should we gain a good reputation? Speaking of certain ones who kept his Law, Jehovah said through his prophet Isaiah: “I will even give to them in my house and within my walls a monument and a name . . . A name to time indefinite I shall give them, one that will not be cut off.” (Isaiah 56:4, 5) Because of their obedience to God, those acceptable to him will have “a monument and a name.” God will remember their name “to time indefinite” so that they will not be cut off. That is the kind of name the Bible encourages us to make—a fine reputation in the eyes of Jehovah, our Creator.
Isaiah was prophesying about the time when faithful individuals will receive everlasting life in Paradise on earth. “Everlasting life” in that Paradise is “the real life”—the type of life that God purposed for humans when he created them. (1 Timothy 6:12, 19) Rather than living a life that is fleeting and unsatisfying, should we not reach out for everlasting life?
Artistic or Philanthropic Pursuits Not Enough
Many artists have a desire to improve their work in order to reach what they consider perfection in their art. The present life is too short for that. When he was in his 90’s, Hideo, the artist mentioned in the preceding article, worked to improve his artistic skills. Even if an artist reaches the point where he is satisfied with his own work, by then he might no longer be able to produce as much as he could have when he was in his prime. But what if he had everlasting life? Think of all the possibilities to perfect his art!
What can be said about philanthropic pursuits in life? It is commendable for a person to turn his attention to the poor and use his resources to help the needy. The Bible states: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) Showing concern for the welfare of others may indeed be fulfilling. How much, though, can one person accomplish, even if he devoted his whole life to this pursuit? What we humans can accomplish in relieving the suffering of others is limited. No amount of material giving will satisfy a basic need that is ignored by most people and goes unfilled in their life. What need is that?
Filling an Inherent Need—A Must
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus referred to an inborn fundamental need when he said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (Matthew 5:3) According to the Bible, then, true happiness does not depend upon wealth, fame, artistic accomplishments, or philanthropic pursuits. Rather, it depends on satisfying our spiritual need—the need to worship God.
The apostle Paul encouraged those who did not know the Creator to search for him. Paul said: “[God] made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of the dwelling of men, for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us. For by him we have life and move and exist.”—Acts 17:26-28.
Satisfying the need to worship the true God is the key to gaining real happiness in life. Filling our spiritual need also puts us in line for gaining “the real life.” Consider the example of Teresa, who made television history in her country when she became the first African-American actress to star in her own one-hour drama series. Soon, however, she left all of that behind. Why? She said: “I am convinced that heeding the counsel of God’s Word is the best way to live.” Teresa did not want to jeopardize her relationship with God by playing a role in a television series that exalted sex and violence. She stepped out of the public eye but embarked on a truly satisfying life, for she served as a full-time preacher of the good news of God’s Kingdom, trying to help others to gain a good relationship with God.
Concerning Teresa’s decision to quit acting, one of her former associates was quoted as saying: “I was heartbroken because I hated to see her throw away what I thought she had. But she obviously found something bigger and better.” Teresa later died. After her death, though, the same former associate observed: “She was happy, and that’s all you can ask for in life. How many of us can say the same thing?” For those who put their relationship with God first in life but are overtaken by death, there is the wonderful prospect of resurrection under Kingdom rule.—John 5:28, 29.
The Creator has a purpose for the earth and for mankind upon it. He wants you to understand this purpose and enjoy everlasting life in Paradise on earth. (Psalm 37:10, 11, 29) Now is the time to learn more about Jehovah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and what he has purposed for you. Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area will be happy to help you gain that knowledge. Please contact them, or write to the publishers of this magazine.
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What was wrong with the reasoning of the rich man in Jesus’ illustration?
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Would you like to enjoy everlasting life in Paradise on earth?