A Positive Reflection on Ecclesiastes - The Meaningful Life & Follow Your Heart

Know the reasons for a meaningless life and then discover the reality and principles for living life to full. With His principles within you, you may follow your heart, enjoy every minute of life and leave for the better world without regrets at your time of departure from this earth.
Ecclesiastes begins with "Everything is meaningless," says the Teacher, "completely meaningless!" (Ecc 1:2 NLT) but ended with "That's the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commands, for this is everyone's duty." (Ecc 12:13, NLT) and the reason is "God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. "(Ecc 12:14, NLT).

Life is Meaningless when it is just about Me and it ends in nothingness at Death
Life is meaningless when we put ourselves at the center and life is only about us. Then, the biggest problem is that our life on earth is limited. We may be able to stretch it, from 70 to 80 to 90 or even to 120 years as some preacher claimed. But eventually, the end will come and we will be no more. Hence, while the earth goes in cycles of sun rise and sun set, seasons over the year, they will continue on even when we are gone.  The world goes no without us. We are not at all important or meaningful to the world. Even when we are alive, the continue pursuit of wealth, glory, pleasures, knowledge and other external things does not satisfy us. When we have them, we reach the state of so what. Meaning cannot be found in the possession and accumulation of things. And when death strikes, all the great possessions that we worked so hard for will be handed over to others who have not worked for them. It is meaningless again.  The sufferings, the injustice, the unfairness, the sickness all add to the meaninglessness of life. Why should we let suffering and injustice upset us? Because, deep inside our heart, we yearn for good and ever lasting life. We have a strong of sense of justice and love for the bullied. We know that life is more than us and our limited span on earth. The author of Ecclesiastes discovers that there is the Creator God and life is meant to be everlasting after all.

Reality: Life Has Meaning because there is God and There is Life after Death
The last verse, "God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. "(Ecc 12:14, NLT) tells us a few things:
  1. There is a God.
  2. He will judge everything we do while on earth.
  3. There is life after death to face the judgment of God.
  4. The outcome of the judgment determines our life after death.
Hence, the recommendation for how to live this life on earth is: 

Fear God and obey His commands, for this is everyone's duty.

with the following implications:
  1. Know the God that created us and everything.
  2. Know His commands for us.
  3. The Purpose of Life is to obey God's commands.
  4. Obeying God's commands in this life will bring satisfaction and fulfillment and thereafter a good life after death.
  5. What if we fail to obey His commands?
    1. We will suffer in this life because His commands are for our good life.
    2. We will suffer punishment after this life.
  6. Is there a way out of our mistakes in this life? Is there any assurance for our life after death?
    1. There is no answer from this book. But we know Jesus Christ came in the New Testament Times to save us from our sins and to give us a new eternal life by His death on the cross and His resurrection from death to give us the assurance. Whoever believe and receive Jesus Christ shall be saved.
Live This Life to the Full especially in your youth
Ecclesiastes started depressively, but it ends with a positive note. 

Young people, it's wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. 
Do everything you want to do; take it all in. 
But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. 
-------Ecc 11:9  NLT

Hence, all young and old, know God as early as possible. Know His commands well for His commands are the principles and laws for success without regrets. Follow and live out His commands for a fulfilled life on earth. When the day comes to leave this earth, you may have angels to come and escort you to the next world of everlasting goodness with God, our Creator.

The Know-How for Living a Successful Life:
Ecclesiastes contains much wisdom for the young man to learn so as be successful in life. It warns the youth not to waste their life so that there be no regrets when one is old and weak. (Ecc 12 contains a long list of the weaknesses of old age). Here is the mind-map:

Lim Liat (c) 29 Oct 2014

For the full study of the book see 


Confucianism and the Temptations of Jesus

The temptation of Jesus Christ can be best understood with the Confucianism's virtue of 礼Li, the right way of behavior for the right time and situation. Devil's power of temptation is to appeal to your right intention but get you do it in the wrong way and situation.
As a young christian, I have much difficulty in understanding the temptations of Jesus as recorded in Luke 4:1-13 and Mat 4:1-10. My point then was why Jesus just don't do what the Devil said to show his power and shut the devil's mouth? I was too foolish to understand the deeper implications of the actions and easily fell into the devil's trap. Here are two posts written in the past to show the true meaning of the devil's temptations. The key point is that our identity should not be defined by external circumstances but purely by faith in the Word of God.
Some preacher suggested that the temptations of Jesus can be better understood as "Doing the right thing in the wrong way." or "The right motivation but the wrong method". One must not only have the right intention, but he must do it in the right way so that the intention can be clearly expressed and received. Confucianism has a word, a virtue, that describe this. It is called 礼 Li, meaning good manners, or the right protocols of behavior in the right time and situations, so as to ensure there be no misunderstanding.

It is commonly taught that Confucianism (The Ru School 儒家) have five virtues of 仁 love 义 righteousness 礼 good manners 智wisdom 信 rustworthiness. In going through the literatures, 勇 bravery and 严 strick discipline should also be added. We may have love and want to do them rightly. But how can we express our love to another rightly? The answer lies in Li, good manners or protocols. This is especially important in this multi-cultures world. For a Chinese, giving roast piglet is a gesture of showing great honor and love. However, pig is not accepted in the Jewish and Muslim cultures. We cannot just give roast piglet to them. It would be taken as an insult. Hence, we can see that having the right intention is not good enough. We must look at the receipient cultural and values view point so that we can express our love in the right way. For Chinese, 'do unto others what you want do unto you' is actually overly imposing. How can I presume that he also wants what I want? I need to find out first, subtlely is best. Then I need to find out what is the right way to show it.

Coming back the temptations of Jesus. What is right way to express the right internal intention?
There is no need for Jesus to prove to the devil who he is. Jesus already know who he is. At the same time, Jesus took the opportunity to point out that God's Word is as important as our daily food. There is no need to prove God's Words by doing silly things to violate God's established order. God's protection will surely come at the right situation and time. Jumping from tall tower is not such a right situation. The way to acknowledge our God is to worship Him above all other things. Someone said that if God is not the Lord of all then He is not the Lord at all,

Hence, let us know 礼 Li, the right thing to do at the right time and situation so that we are not easily tempted and trapped by the devil or the world. 

Always ask, yes, it is a good intention, but is it the right way, at the right time, under the right situation?

Lim Liat (c) 10 Oct 14