Finding Meaning

One of the central questions that philosophers and theologians have struggled with for millennia is the mystery of what gives life meaning. Everyone wants to be happy and fulfilled, but how can we tell what true happiness is and where it comes from?

The ancient Greeks believed that the source of happiness was internal and cultivated by living a worthwhile life. They called this state eudaimonia, which Aristotle described as taking part in activities that draw on our talents and challenge our abilities, acting in ways that benefit others, and guiding our lives by principles and virtues. It isn’t enough to simply possess an ability or disposition—eudaimonia requires it to be put into action with deeds.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he begs the Christians there to live a life worthy of their calling.1 He goes on to explain that this is done through being humble, gentle, patient, tolerant, loving, and peaceable toward those around them.

Living a virtuous and principled life sounds good. Unfortunately, as humans, our imperfect nature often makes us unable to achieve this on our own. As believers, however, we can draw on God’s power to help us go further in transcending our limitations. “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.”2

Solomon, supposedly the wisest person who ever lived, also discovered the futility of a life lived only for self and this world, but he hit on the solution. At the end of his search for meaning and happiness in the book of Ecclesiastes, he concludes, “Everything you were taught can be put into a few words: Respect and obey God! This is what life is all about.”3

The more we learn to put God and the well-being of others at the center of our thoughts and actions, the more meaning and purpose our lives will have.

  1. See Ephesians 4:1.
  2. Psalm 18:32
  3. Ecclesiastes 12:13 CEV