What is the meaning of life?

Written on: July 31, 2023

Article by: Roy Davison

This question is often asked by someone who feels that his life has little meaning. He wonders who he is and why he is here. Maybe a better question is: “How can I find meaning in life?” or even “How can I make my life meaningful?”

The Bible gives God’s answers to these questions!

Your life can have meaning, from a Christian perspective, through:
1. your family
2. your friends
3. your work
4. your service
5. your faith.

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The Scriptures enable us to live meaningful lives because they teach us truths about ourselves, others, and the world in which we live.

We find many answers in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Our origin, identity and mission are stated.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

We are created in the image of God! This explains both our origin and our identity. We are a creation of God. Adam is called “the son of God” (Luke 3:38). We are God’s offspring (Acts 17:28, 29). God is our Father!

Our life, as an image bearer of God, has meaning regardless of our circumstances! We understand our identity better when we learn about God and His attributes from the Scriptures. This enables us to follow our Father’s example and to obey His instructions. This gives meaning to our lives.

Family relationships give meaning to our lives. God created us male and female. This is an extremely important aspect of our identity and of the meaning of our lives. The continuation of life is an important part of the meaning of life. “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:28).

The husband-wife relationship gives meaning to life. “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18). “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).

The parent-child relationship gives meaning to life. “Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father” (Proverbs 17:6). These relationships give meaning and great joy to life when the Creator’s instructions are followed.

People who are not blessed with a marriage partner or children, can have spiritual children through the good influence they have on others. The Messiah, who did not have physical children, says: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me” (Hebrews 2:13). Paul, who was single, calls Timothy: “my beloved and faithful son in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:17).

Friends give meaning to our lives. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel” (Proverbs 27:9). “Friends” is one of the designations for Christians! John closes his third letter with, “Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name” (3 John 14).

Meaning is given to the life of a Christian by these spiritual relationships in the church of Christ. First of all, we have a relationship with Jesus who said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14) and “Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). Paul encourages Christians: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” (Romans 12:10).

Productive work gives meaning to our lives. “Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labour” (Ecclesiastes 2:24). God told Adam and Eve to subdue the earth and to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

God also works! “Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working’” (John 5:17). We are made in the image of our Creator, so we also are able to work and create, and we find fulfillment in doing so!

Because rest is required to enable us to work, rest also adds meaning to our lives.

God created us so that we spend about a third of each day sleeping. After creation, God rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:3). The law of Moses provided for a weekly day of rest. Jesus gives rest to Christians: “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Notice that rest is appreciated by those who labour. After our work on earth is done, we can look forward to an eternal rest (Hebrews 4:9). After a busy time, Jesus told His disciples: “‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31). A well-earned holiday can add meaning to life!

Serving others gives meaning to our lives. Jesus encourages us to serve others explaining that He himself “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

The life of someone who serves is meaningful. Paul told the Ephesian elders: “I have shown you in every way, by labouring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

Some people mistakenly think that amassing wealth gives meaning to life. But Jesus warned, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). In Ecclesiastes, Solomon, one of the wealthiest men who ever lived, said that all material gain is vanity.

The Christian faith gives meaning to our lives. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). A Christian not only knows where he came from, he also knows where he is going. His hope – based on the promises of God – reaches beyond the grave. Like Abraham, he seeks “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

Helping to spread the gospel of Christ gives meaning to the life of a Christian. What a privilege that we may proclaim God’s message of salvation to the world! What could be more meaningful than helping someone inherit eternal life. Our assignment is: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16).

What have we learned? In the Bible, God explains the meaning of life. Because we are created in the image of God, we understand the meaning of our lives better, the more we learn about God. Meaning is given to life by: our family; our friends; our work; our service and
our Christian faith.

“Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). To glorify God is the ultimate meaning of life!

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979, 1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers, unless indicated otherwise.

Used by permission – published in The Old Paths Archive, (http://www.oldpaths.com)