Many Christians are familiar with the general outline of Ecclesiastes. The first couple chapters follow the author – very likely Solomon – searching for fulfillment in the accomplishments and possessions of this life, and none of these bring satisfaction. He then turns to various states of emotion, of intelligence, of sorrow, and ignorance. Throughout this, we see glimpses of the conclusion he comes to at the end of his book:
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Why should we fear God and keep His commandments? Why should we honor and revere Him, and what does it mean to be the “whole of man?”
An Unfulfilling Relationship with God
Some might serve out of a base fear of punishment. It is less an act of reverence than an act of self-preservation, much like a child might follow certain rules – not because they understand the rules or respect the authority behind them, but because the fear consequences. Others may serve God because they inherited it from their parents, blindly following a tradition passed from generation from generation. Finally, we may follow God for selfish reasons, for the benefits and blessings we believe we have in Him. None of this, however, is what Solomon speaks of in his book, and none of these attitudes will satisfy our relationship with God.
Nothing in this life completes us the way our God completes us. Until we recognize that, until we stop superficially serving while seeking other answers, we will never achieve true contentment and peace in this life.
Finding Fulfillment in God
Our Emotional Needs
God fulfills our emotional needs. All of the feelings given to us by God, those emotional needs and responses given by Him, are fulfilled by His presence in our lives. Take Noah, in Genesis 6:9, who is described as man who “walked with God,” implying that God also walked with Him. Job, like Noah, is pictured as a perfect man. Abraham and God, chapter after chapter, have a close relationship in the book of Genesis, and David, the man “after God’s own heart,” shares a mutual love with God. To these individuals, God is not pictured as a distant being. They commune closely with their God.
John 3:16 begins with “God so loved the world,” and when we read that, we should see ourselves in that. God so loved me that He gave His only son. Romans 5:6 describes the mercy with which God looks down upon us and His willingness to love us even when we are unloving. Where it is easy to love those who reciprocate our love, God continually loves us even when we do not love.
We love because He first loved us.
– John 1:19
Our Intellectual Needs
Mankind is an inquisitive and curious species. We are always trying to do more, discover more, accomplish more. Genesis 1:26-27 records God placing Adam and Eve in the garden, He affirms that all He has made is for the fulfillment of His Creation. There is so much to enjoy in this world; there is so much to pursue and try to understand; so much to create and discover; but none of these things can ultimately fulfill us.
Hebrews 1:1 reminds us that God has always spoken to man, and II Peter 1:2-3 encourages us to grow intellectually, learning more of His word, understanding all things pertaining to life through Him. It is a knowledge of God that leads to a deeper understanding of who He is and who we are. No other wisdom can satisfy our minds like God can.
Our Spiritual Needs
Returning to Genesis 1:27, we see ourselves created in God’s image. This is not a reference to God’s physical appearance. Instead, as reinforced in Genesis 2:7, it is a reference to our living souls. Our spiritual nature reflects God’s spiritual nature, and that eternal spirit longs for a fulfillment that this world is unable to provide. Every human being has eternity in their hearts.
Romans 6:23 tells us God’s gift to us is eternity for our souls. Luke 10:25 and Luke 18:18 both demonstrate individuals who are contemplating the fates of their individual eternal souls. Romans 1:19-20 even reminds us of the eternal nature testified by the world we see around us. Our souls long for something we cannot find in this world.
God’s sacrificial love for us should elicit a response from us. He fulfills us as spiritual, intellectual, and emotional creatures in a way nothing physical can. We can return His love; we can know His plan and intentions for us; We can accept His gift of eternity. In Him, we find the only true answer for the deepest needs of our souls. His word, His love, His gift – these complete mankind. He is, as Ecclesiastes states, the whole of man.
lesson by Tim Smelser