The End of the Matter

The End of the Matter

All is vanity,

A chasing of the wind:

We have our dreams,

But nothing in the end.

We have our birth and death,

We have our work and play.

But all is meaningless,

What else is there to say?

The end of the matter,

When all is said and done,

We’re here for a purpose,

Not just going ‘round the sun.

Not just for toiling,

Not to shake our booties;

But in life to live for God—

This is our sacred duty.

I have had my pleasures,

I’ve had my share of pain.

I’ve enjoyed the sunshine,

I’ve been refreshed by the rain.

I’ve been on the playground,

And I’ve surely been in school:

I’ve been a wise man,

But I’ve also been the fool.

The end of the matter,

When all is said and done,

We’re here for a purpose,

Not just going ‘round the sun.

Not just for toiling,

Not to shake our booties;

But in life to live for God—

This is our sacred duty.

People enjoying sex and drugs,

And forever rock and roll.

Money and accomplishments,

But nothing soothes the soul.

With angry fists and voices lifted,

In unbelief we taunt:

But for every word and deed,

Be sure, we’ll give account.

The end of the matter,

When all is said and done,

We’re here for a purpose,

Not just going ‘round the sun.

Not just for toiling,

Not to shake our booties;

But in life to live for God—

This is our sacred duty.

This is our sacred duty.

This is our sacred duty.

In life to live for God—

This is our sacred duty.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? ~ Micah 6:8

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. ~  John 17:3

Many people don’t like the book of Ecclesiastes, stating that it’s “depressing,” but they miss the point of the book entirely. The book is not saying that everything in life is meaningless. After all, God has blessed life, work, and play (provided it’s not sinful). However, the life apart from God is empty, and nothing can truly satisfy us apart from God.

Many are familiar with the words of St. Augustine of Hippo, in which he writes, “You awake us to delight in your praise; for you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”[1] This is the point the writer of Ecclesiastes is making. Making good grades, getting a good job, attaining wealth, having great sex, having fun parties, enjoying the best foods, etc. will not truly satisfy the space in the heart. The writer is not saying that none of these things are pleasurable, but they will neither satisfy nor sustain a person ultimately.

Isn’t it worth considering that the richest people in the world are never satisfied with all the money they have? They still want more. The same thing with other pleasures and vices. But at the end of the day, there’s still something missing. Occasionally we’re surprised to learn that some persons who seemed to have had it all end of taking their lives.

The writer is not saying any pleasure in life is bad and empty. However, where persons will truly find their purpose and fulfillment, strangely, is by fearing God and walking in His ways. Furthermore, those who simply live for the pleasures while dismissing God will not only give account one day, but all of these will be stripped from them.

1. Why would fearing God and keeping His commandments prover to be a good thing? Why would we find fulfillment in these?

2. How does Jesus define eternal life?

3. What does Augustine mean when he says that our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God?


[1] Saint Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, ed. Hal M. Helms (Brewster, MA: Paraclete, 2010), 3.

(From the book, Metal Head Devotions, by Geno Pyse, available through amazon.com)

A Timely, Although Obscure, N.T. Verse

If you’ve read the entire New Testament, then you’ve read this verse. However, I bet it’s not one you were determined to commit to memory. And unless you sit under a pastor who has preached expository sermons through this epistle, I think I can can say with 99.9% accuracy that you’ve never heard a sermon on it or read a book devoted to it. This timely verse is sorely neglected, and our negligence is not inconsequential.

While the verse itself isn’t all that strange (you can find its message echoing throughout the Scriptures), it seems strange because of the way it ends an epistle abruptly. For at the end of John’s first letter, he writes, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). There’s no benediction, goodbye, or “Sincerely, John.” Just “keep yourselves from idols.”

Whenever Evangelicals think of idols, we tend to think of the statues we might see in Hindu temples, Roman Catholic churches, or the little Buddhas we see in someone’s garden; however, idolatry goes much deeper than that. Furthermore, idolatry is something we all must guard against and flee from. As one theologian has observed, the human heart is like its own idol factory. And A. W. Tozer, in his book, Knowledge of the Holy, notes how idols are not simply objects people bow down to worship, but idolatry includes even the notions of God that are not in line with the truth of who He is. So, an idol is any object, thought, feeling, idea, etc. in which we harbor and place above God or of which we substitute Him for to find our pleasure, meaning, purpose, or identity.

Ours is certainly a hedonistic, idolatrous society, and these have certainly been carried into churches. I’m reminded of this every year at this time when churches restructure their evening services for Super Bowl Sunday, just to watch a stupid ball thrown around. I’m reminded of this when I’ve seen Hillsong videos where they’ve introduced goddess worship (this is not at all subtle in one of their recorded concerts). But I also want to add the quests for the supernatural phenomenon (e.g, “gold dust,” tongues, warm fuzzies, hype, etc.). Understand, I don’t deny authentic miracles and spiritual gifts exist. But I am saying we, as human beings, are prone to make such things—especially experiences—into idols (and as a godly man I know had taught, if you want an experience, Satan will give you an experience). The same thing with “blessings” (e.g., money, a dream come true [a signed contract], a large congregation, etc.). I think one form of idolatry so prevalent in our day is the love for the blessing rather than the love for the Blesser. 

Regardless whatever we might turn into an idol, their works will always pollute devotion and worship of God. Idols will always begin steering one’s heart from the Scriptures and bringing it into question. Idols will always help us find justifications as to why we can place them beside the throne of God and deceive us into thinking our hearts can be divided and still be wholeheartedly devoted to God. Our idols will tempt us to curse our Redeemer if we are not given our “fixes” of our desired blessings. Idols distort our thinking of God and sound theology (the “prosperity gospel” teachers are a case in point).

Idols divide our hearts and seek to be divine substitutes. And when God doesn’t give us what our idols give, we begin questioning Him and even doubting Him. We’ll even begin accusing true worshipers of God who are sent to warn us.

The true God isn’t one of our own making. He is what He is, whether we like Him or not. Indeed, He is merciful and kind, but He is also holy, holy, holy. His richest of blessings is not the things of earth but Himself. This isn’t so much in the hype and hoopla, but in His peace. You and I both wrestle with idolatry. We must continually have the Holy Spirit’s help in smashing them and giving us discernment.

Just because something is miraculous, supernatural, or gives us warm sensations, or grants us monetary prosperity doesn’t mean it’s of God. Make no mistake, the evil one can market counterfeits. We must continually test the spirits (1 John 4:1-2). How are we viewing the Scriptures, God’s Word? How are we viewing Jesus Christ and His atonement? And are we willing to shuffle the things of God to make room for idols (this requires real examining). 

Our idols might appear to give us our temporary pleasures and experiences, but they will rob us of the peace, joy, security, and divine presence only the true God can give.

But Do We Desire Him?

So many worship songs today declare how God’s love and grace make us feel. He showers on us His love. He gave His life for us, and fills us with His peace. “I could sing of Your love forever,” we sing, but does this include when a driver cuts us off or a restaurant employee messes up our order?

We talk and sing about God’s great love and sacrifice for us—that He gave His all to redeem us, to make us His own. But do we love Him? Do we genuinely desire Him? Please consider what I’m about to say. We modern Christians have made our feelings and worship into idols. I’m afraid, if we are honest, many love the emotional stimuli surrounding worship far more than the God whom is being claimed as being worshipped. 

Another thing we’ve carved into an idol is knowledge. Many take great delight in studying the Bible, theology, and hearing a good sermon. Mind you, of themselves these are good things; however, do we love the knowledge more than the Giver of knowledge?

We will spend hours at concerts, conferences, seminars, or in studies. But how much time will we be still in God’s presence, simply conversing with Him in prayer? For the vast majority, such time is significantly decreased. How can we truly love and adore one whom we don’t want to be with, who cramps our style, whom we’re too busy for, and not worth sacrificing other things for just to be with Him?

Leonard Ravenhill observes, “A man may study because his brain is hungry for knowledge, even Bible knowledge. But he prays because his soul is hungry for God.” How many of us can truly say our soul is hungry for God? What about when we set aside the music, the lights, and the various nuances and stimuli? Do we desire Him, to talk to Him, and to hear directly from Him? The psalmist writes,

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” ~ Psalm 42:1-2

How many of us can truly say this? God doesn’t only want our praise and worship (although He does want these). He also wants our hearts, our time, and our presence with Him. Do we give Him these from devoted hearts filled with love and desire for Him? If we can only muster a couple of minutes to Him, can we truly answer affirmatively? Oh, we desire warm-fuzzies, entertainment, and motivationals—but do we desire Him?