Home Commentary The Pursuit of True Happiness and Meaning in Life

The Pursuit of True Happiness and Meaning in Life


By Will Graham

People will try many different things in an attempt to bring themselves happiness and fulfillment. Some pursue philanthropy, good deeds, mentoring or positive social work. Others throw themselves into hobbies, jobs or relationships. Unfortunately there are many who pursue destructive vices that only bring suffering.

While many follow the world’s path in seeking fulfillment, the Bible gives instruction from one of the wisest men who ever lived—King Solomon. Philosophers, kings, rulers and sages would come, sit, and listen to his wisdom.

Solomon searched for true happiness and meaning in life, and he gives us his conclusions in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

Fear God: Surprisingly, Solomon does not say to get more education or to acquire more wealth. He has all of this and has concluded that it is all vanity. Rather, Solomon’s first and primary conclusion is to fear God (v. 13).

The fear of God is the sense of awe that emerges when we see our lack of holiness, since we are broken sinners, and we are met with God’s perfect righteousness. It is not a sense of being scared or timid, but that of reverent awe.

Keep God’s Commandments: Solomon’s second conclusion is to keep God’s commandments (v. 13), which—by the way—is a natural result of fearing God. Once we are in awe of God, we will follow Him.  Often in life we think that God’s commands steal our joy and happiness. However, the opposite is true. The commandments are given so that we can enjoy life and live it to the fullest.

Those two points—fearing God and keeping His commandments—encompass everything in a person’s life. Solomon says in verse 13, “For this is man’s all.” Nothing else.

Now, why does Solomon say that this is man’s all? It is because we will be judged by the Lord (v. 14). I believe that the reason people do not fear the Lord (stand in awe) or keep His commandments is because we often forget about God’s judgment. However, like it or not, we will be judged—both believers and non-believers.

Not only are we judged, but our works will also be judged. Solomon says that both our good and bad will be judged, and all the things done in secret will be judged as well. Nothing is kept from God’s judgment.

I don’t know about you, but that thought is a bit intimidating to me. I fear God and strive to follow Him in all that I do, but I also know I’ve fallen far short of His glory (Romans 3:23).

The good news is that Jesus became the perfect sacrifice, taking our judgment. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Christ paid “the wages of sin” on our behalf, giving those who call upon Him as Savior the gift of “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Does that mean that we should not fear God, or that we do not need to keep His commandments? Of course not. We should pursue Jesus and His righteousness with all that we are. However, we will never be “good enough,” and that’s why Christ came and offered His atoning sacrifice.

If you’ve not yet surrendered your life into His hands and accepted the hope only Jesus offers—the hope that brings true and lasting peace—I encourage you to do so today!

Your heart can be filled with God’s peace. Ask for His help today.

Scripture Reference: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.

Will Graham is the Vice President and Associate Evangelist at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. For more information on the BGEA, visit  https://billygraham.org. This article was reprinted with permission.

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