William Wallace reportedly said about life,
Not everyone really lives.
The sentiment echoes the search for meaning in life. In this article, I will show you how to find meaning and make your life worthwhile.
We all share the sense of vanity this life possesses. By design, we long for something more. We recognize that life MUST mean something and we struggle against the feeling of emptiness and vanity inherent in the brevity of life. The wise king, Solomon, said this about it:
I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:12-14).
While recognizing the vanity inherent in life defines the problem, it does not ensure its solution, so we need a solution. And there are many solutions men have provided over the millennia. Currently, in our culture, the ideals of self-improvement and pushing ourselves beyond perceived limitations seem most popular ways to combat the void. Essentially, some people are selling the idea that if we stay busy making a living and burning the candle at both ends (the “hustle” and the “grind”) we will find meaning in life – as if we measure life’s value by the amount we produce.
The only problem with these is that they only postpone dealing with the vanity.
That Purposeful Vanity
Our limitations of ability and time make most efforts futile. We will be here only for a short time. Yes, we might make an impact, but it will not be one that lasts. And even if it does last, how long will it last? What good will it be in 10,000 years for us to have lived today? Why heap up the toys and the large bank accounts only to lose them all at the end of life? And why contribute to a society that will one day cease to exist? Such uselessness might lead to depression and despair–and it has for many. But there is actually good news wrapped in this cloak of vanity!
Ironically, PURPOSE exists in the vanity we see in life. Our experience on earth was intentionally designed to carry a certain uselessness. It pushes us to crave for “more” and fight against the very nature of these circumstances. We KNOW there MUST BE more to life. It’s not intellectual knowledge. Our DNA stores it! This knowledge existed from the beginning.
So it was no wonder that Jesus raised eyebrows when He said He offered purpose and meaning for life.
Jesus Came to Bring Life
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
On the surface of it, that statement is either bold or ridiculous. He’s speaking to living people, about living people, telling them He came to give them life. But we know He meant something more than the ability to breath oxygen. He’s talking about PURPOSE.
The inherent vanity of life is found in the brevity of it–the fact that we will die and never play a role in this world again. But Jesus revealed a life that is worthwhile and inherently valuable. He showed us activities that are inherently worthwhile because they are eternal in nature. And living along this pathway we discover meaning, value, and contentment as a result. There are activities that have eternal significance! And these activities and accomplishments have real value.
But let’s get to the basics.
What is life?
Here is Google’s definition of life.
The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.
Science and the world around us can define life, yet Jesus offers purpose and meaning for life, not just a definition of the basics of life. However, we can see that Google’s definition above correlates with what Jesus taught. That is, the definition of life that Jesus described in His ministry shows a “condition that distinguishes” humans who breathe oxygen from humans who are alive. That might sound harsh or arrogant, but we’re not talking about a class of people inherently different. We are talking about behaviors that are inherently different. And these behaviors can be practiced by anyone alive. These activities lead to accomplishments that are inherently and eternally valuable.
The Origins of Life
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).
Physical life began when God created it. But if we want to define the life Jesus spoke about, we need to consider His teachings about life. We can see those in His own lessons and in the lessons of those He trained, His Apostles. And these lessons will breathe into us the “breath of life”. We will begin to live according to principles rooted in the eternal, not in the temporal. That is the key to finding meaning.
What is Eternal Life?
In discussing what eternal life is, we need to put words to the ideas.
The best way to describe activities that are inherently valuable is to emphasize that these activities are of an eternal nature and that they represent what true life is all about. These activities are “eternal” by their very nature, not because they will cause an impact in this world that will last forever.
That’s important to recognize because this world will end and humanity on earth will die out. It’s inevitable. Our actions cannot live on earth beyond the end of actions on earth. Our influence in this world’s processes and pursuits cannot continue to influence if there are no more people on earth to feel that influence. So we are not talking about a temporary activity that has a temporal impact (even if “temporary” were one million years). We are talking about activities that will have a meaningful impact in the eternal. (By “impact” I do not intend to suggest that we could add to or change the eternal. It is a term of convenience for lack of a better way to express the thoughts.)
What could we do to have an eternal impact?
We might say that living a life full of eternal impact is living an “eternal life”. Not only would we live a never-ending life, we would make an inherently meaningful impact.
There Is Only One Eternal Life
God is eternal.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
Our first clue about how to have an eternal impact revolves around an understanding of our eternal God. He created time and sits outside its influence. He is the very definition of what it means to be “eternal”.
Jesus Himself pointed to this in John 17:3 when He prayed,
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
We Are Not the Source of the Eternal
Here’s the deal. We are obviously not eternal. We are based in the temporal so we do not grasp the eternal beyond recognizing that it exists. So how could we determine what would impact eternity? We wouldn’t’ have a clue unless we were told by God Himself. And, thankfully, that’s what happened!
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life… (1 John 5:13).
But eternal life was not just written about, it was demonstrated. And this is what is so exciting and fascinating! That an eternal Being (God) could present Himself in a temporal setting (flesh and blood) to demonstrate eternal principles in temporal applications. (All of that is mind-blowing on many levels.) And we have eye-witnesses to that expression.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us… (1 John 1:1-2).
Since God is the only eternal, and we must practice activities of an eternal nature to have an eternal impact, we need to act according to God’s nature.
What is God’s Nature?
John’s first letter teaches that God’s nature is love. He is the definition of love. It’s not that He makes a conscious decision to act according to the laws of love for that would show an eternal God to be inferior. Neither is it the case that His actions define love as if He determined by mere preference what “love” would be. No, He is love. It is part of His nature.
Notice what John wrote about it in 1 John 4:7-8:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
But What Is Love?
Since we cannot perform what we do not define, we must make some definition of love. Its nature is more than a feeling. The essence of love is service. A good definition is to act in a way that benefits another without regard to self. (For a great discussion of this, visit this link.)
Essentially, when we act in pure love, we are behaving like God and performing eternal activities. But that’s more than a feeling. And it’s more than acting in ways we think are appropriate. (Haven’t you ever acted in a way you thought was correct only to find out later that you re wrong?)
Jesus gave the Parable of the Sower in order to teach us about the nature of God growing within the heart. In the parable, Jesus told us the seed represented the word of God. This word is the expression of the will and characteristics of God. When the word finds root in our hearts and grows, the result is “fruit” (actions) of eternal consequence. So our goal is to produce that fruit in order to have an eternally significant impact.
The Fruit of the Spirit
Coinciding with the teaching about the growth of the fruit in Jesus’ parable, Paul expanded that idea in Galatians 5:22-23 when he taught of the “fruit of the Spirit”. And here’s what he said that fruit is:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
When we plant God’s word in our heart and remove the distractions of sin and the cares of this world, and if we nurture that seed within, the result will be that list of attributes.
And since these are the result of following God’s word, it is living according to God’s nature because He would not express anything that contradicts His nature. Since His nature is love, the parts of the fruit here are all descriptive of what it means to love.
The Expression of the Fruit of the Spirit is the Expression of God’s Nature
Therefore, the development of this fruit in practice in our lives is the greatest thing we can accomplish. This is what life is about. This is the way to find meaning and value in activities–how to produce eternally significant results. And we want to help you do that.
If you are not developing the fruit of the Spirit in your life, you are not living a meaningful life.
Our television program is the flagship for The Truth In Love organization. We’ve had more than 100 different men of God give lessons on all kinds of topics since 1984. Almost all of those are available to you free of charge via DVD. You can go here to see more information if you’d like.
And recently we began a series of devotionals. These are designed to offer practical thoughts from the Scriptures to help provide the tools you need to help develop the fruit of the Spirit in your own life.
We just want to do what we can to help us all get to heaven.