William Shakespeare said, “Life is a tale told by an idiot” But is life so insignificant and meaningless? People think of life in different ways. Most think that life should be successful. Then what is success? To some it is wealth and enjoyment, to some it is power and to some it is fame. Yet to others it is healthy long life. But a successful life may not be meaningful.
An English poet has said that it is not worth living uselessly like an oak tree for a long time. But it is better to live only for a day like a lily flower giving its fragrance to many. So a meaningful life is one that is useful and purposeful. The great Indian poet Rabindra Nath Tagore said, “I spent my time stringing and unstringing my instrument, while I forgot to sing the song that I came to sing.” Many spend their lives meaninglessly wasting it as some one has said, “chasing the shadow” or “Chasing the wild goose”. They go after the things that they think are success, but end in despair. A meaningful life is the one that gives satisfaction and fulfillment at the end of our lives. But shall we wait till the last breath to see whether we are satisfied? No. We are given the wise counsel by wise people. King Solomon, the wisest man ever lived said that he pursued every thing under heaven to find satisfaction; but at last he said, “Everything is vanity.” But Jesus has said how we can be profitable in our lives. He said,” What good is it for a man to gain the whole world yet forfeits his soul?” (Mark 8:36) What counts is whether one has saved his/her soul. Many so called successful men were so disappointed at the close of their lives and regretted that they wasted their lives because they did not have the assurance that their souls were saved or they had no confidence of the eternal life.
Saving soul depends on whether one can live according to the desire or will of God. Only a life that pleases God can be at peace and have the sense of fulfillment. Both the Old and the New Testaments agree what God expects of us. Jesus confirmed it. God said that one should love God and his neighbor. Loving God and loving the neighbor are the two sides of the same coin. Loving the neighbor without loving God can not be complete. The love of the neighbor should come from the love of God. God loved the world and gave his only son to die for the sinners. That is divine love. The Bible says, “If I give away all my possessions and have not love, it is nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3) On the other hand, if one loves God and does not love the neighbor, it is not genuine. As the apostle says, “How can we love God whom we cannot see if we cannot love our brother whom we can see?” So loving God and obeying Him is the only thing that makes life purposeful.
How can one love God? It is by accepting the gift that He gave – His Son, by believing in Him. That is accepting the salvation that Jesus the Son of God wrought on the cross. When we accept the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus, we are assured of the eternal life. This wipes away all our guilt and life becomes peaceful. A committed life to God is used for His purpose. Then God gives strength to live a victorious life and at the end of our lives we do not regret. A meaningful life is the one that is pleasing to God and serving the fellowmen. One without the other is neither complete nor rewarding. Then life becomes burdensome not only to others but to ourselves as well. Also, the purpose of our life never finds fruition. We end in despair and without the hope of eternity.
What are the evidences of loving God? God created man for fellowship and He always relishes the company of man. So a person loving God also enjoys the fellowship and the company of God. This is achieved by spending time with Him, the one-to-one relationship. Then He speaks to us. Another way is to love His Word and enjoy being with it. Personal meditation on God’s word is a sure sign of loving God. Also, a person who loves God finds time to have fellowship with other believers. But it is possible to mistake being busy in rituals, religious formalities and responsibilities to loving God. Such a person is busy but has no rest or peace of mind. They spend time only for self satisfaction and not pleasing God. A life away from the presence of God is a fussy and noisy life.
Then who is our neighbor and how to love them? Every one other than us is our neighbor. They may live under our roof itself. Loving the neighbor is sharing the joys and sorrows of our neighbors and trying to help them in their spiritual, mental and material needs. Some think to give some financial help alone is enough. But to give them company and trying to help their spiritual problems is one of the important service to them.
No one is perfect. But it does not mean one should be complacent and self-satisfied. It is our duty to strive with the help of the Holy Spirit to make our lives meaningful. Paul says,” Not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brethren, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do forgetting what is behind and striving toward what is ahead. I press toward the goal to win the prize towards which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 3: 12-14) If a saint like Paul thinks of himself imperfect and feels the need to improve by constantly striving in his spiritual life, how much more we who are less perfect should try to better our lives! As some one has said, “A saint is a sinner who is striving”. We have to better our lives with God’s Grace until we depart from this world. In this process we are trying to make our lives more and more meaningful every day. Are you complacent in your present state of affairs? Or do you think that you need to improve yourself? If you do, strive and the Almighty God will help you. May our good Lord help you and make your life meaningful.