"All is Vanity" Devotional, written by Nick Smith

Read: Ecclesiastes 1-3

Nothing matters! You get up. Go to work. Come home. Maybe you put the kids to bed. Go to sleep. Repeat. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year!

Sure, you can do great things. You can prosper and build and acquire. You can drown yourself in pleasure and experiences. But it won’t last. It’s nothing but smoke and mirrors. In an instant - poof! - it’s gone. 

Wisdom is good, but your breaths are still numbered. Death comes for all of us - even for you! Pleasure can be found around every bend, but your appetite for pleasure is insatiable. It’s never enough. Beauty can make you feel valuable, but then you get old and it fades. When we seek satisfaction from wisdom, pleasure, beauty, work… it is like feeding on the wind. It won’t satisfy. These pursuits just leave us hungry.

So, why? Why do we get up every day? Are we brave enough to ask that question? Brave enough to explore the boundaries of life and the point of it all?

The writer of Ecclesiastes was. But his findings weren’t that encouraging. In the end, he says, it’s all pointless. It’s futile! All is vanity. Generations come and go, but nothing changes. All of the rivers flow into the sea but the sea is never full. The rivers just keep flowing to the same place, over and over. And there is nothing we can do to change that. Lest we disagree, remember this was written by a guy known for having in abundance the two things that usually are able to bring about change: wisdom and wealth. But the  writer of Ecclesiastes is ultimately tearing down to build up. He is demolishing our man-centered worldview and rebuilding a God-centered worldview.

Just as life itself does, the writer is taking us to the depths of weariness and emptiness to raise us up and place us in the arms of our loving Heavenly Father. For if there is restlessness, there must be rest! If there is hunger, there must be fullness!

But if one looks beyond himself and beyond the appearance of things - indeed, if one looks upon the cross of Christ - everything matters. All of sudden, life “under the sun” is infused with purpose, hope, and unstoppable joy as we see ‘beyond the sun.’

When one starts his thinking from the perspective of man and the observable world, nothing matters... in the end, 'all is vanity'. Nothing you do in this world will really make a difference. Whatever you build will be torn down by the next generation. Any progress towards peace among men will be undone by selfishness and wars. The love you extend to another will be undercut or overshadowed by the hatred so pervasive in our fallen world. But if one looks beyond himself and beyond the appearance of things - indeed, if one looks upon the cross of Christ - everything matters. All of sudden, life “under the sun” is infused with purpose, hope, and unstoppable joy as we see “beyond the sun.” We begin to see a truer reality, a reality found in Christ. And what previously seemed pointless is eternally meaningful because of Christ!

One day, the trumpet will sound and death will be swallowed up in victory. Wars will cease and striving will stop. We will hunger and thirst no more. God is moving all things towards redemption. Do you feel it? Do you feel eternity is beating in your chest?

Brothers and sisters, fear the Lord. Obey His commandments. Point others towards the joy found in Him. Realize that everything is infused with meaning and hope because Christ reigns victoriously! Because of Christ, everything matters!


FOR REFLECTION:

  1. Do you feel purpose in your life right now?
  2. How does the gospel change your purpose and outlook on life?
  3. Are you living with eternity in mind? Do you have a man-centered worldview or God-centered worldview?