Look Behind (then look to Christ)

16 min readJune 24, 2022


Christ , joy
Jeff segoviaBy: Jeff Segovia
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Let me begin this post by reminding all of you that everything that is written in the Scriptures is truth. The biblical writers were not writing mere observations or just their own speculations. What they wrote is true and is indeed truth. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Since God is truth and that He cannot lie, everything that is in His written word is truth.

The words of the Scriptures are tested and proven to be true. They have passed the test of time. They have brought even the most intellectual critics to their knees. They have even put to shame many skeptics which paved the way for them to turn to the Lord. Countless prophecies have already come to pass and many more are yet to unfold. Thus, there is no other book which can perfectly assess man except the holy Scriptures. Not only is the complete and perfect plan of God’s redemption through His Son is written in the Bible. It also includes the condition of man along with his nature, desires, pursuits, and end.

Everything that man needs to know with regards to his soul is in the Scriptures. Today, we will let the word of God bring us into a state of self-examination not for the purpose of bringing condemnation upon ourselves but to see what we really need. Only the word of God can expose us for who and what we truly are and God does this always for our good and ultimately for His own glory. May the Spirit of truth bring us face to face to the word of God and as we become exposed before God, may we be convicted to throw ourselves upon His mercy and grace.

All is Vanity

The Scripture is filled with many truths which may appear untrue to the carnal mind. Even some believers are having a hard time believing what’s written there. Nevertheless, God’s word is true no matter what we feel, think, or believe. No matter how much we reason against God, the final verdict is from God and His verdict is that whatever is in His word, it is truth.

One of the most painful assertions in the Scriptures is written by the wisest man (aside from the Lord Jesus Christ) who ever walked on the face of the earth — King Solomon, the son of David with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:24). Under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, he wrote most of the book of Proverbs, Songs of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. Solomon was young when he became king and having understood his limitation that time, he asked the Lord that He would give him wisdom and He did.

In the Book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon wrote:

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities,all is vanity.” What profit has a man from all his labor In which he toils under the sun? Ecclesiastes 1:2–3

Is everything really vain? Is there really no profit in everything that we do under sun? Of course not! All is vanity not in the sense that everything is futile or that everything that we do has no value. Not everything is worthless for there are things that have value — but only temporal value. Your studies, jobs, businesses, and other endeavors have temporal value. These things are not worthless. In fact, God is glorified when you do these things for His glory. But if we are going to look to things through the lens of the spiritual, everything indeed is vanity. All is vanity because “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9)”. Events are recurring. History is repeated. There is nothing new under the sun.

Look Behind

Solomon wrote,

Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:10–11

One definition of the word “vanity” is an “excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements”. This is why for Solomon, all his labor was in vain. Not because his labor did not produce good results but because he took pride in all his labor. He said, “For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor”. There is a form of joy that he got from what he accomplished and that became the reward or in other words, the satisfaction of his heart. But then, Solomon was really wise for when he looked back to all that his hands had made, he saw the emptiness, the void, the unprofitability, and the futility of it all and his conclusion was “indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.” All was vanity for Solomon because he made his labors the ultimate source of his joy and satisfaction. The mindset that what you do, that is, your performance will ever satisfy you is a symptom of a prideful heart. It is in essence thinking that what you do MUST be about you and ultimately FOR you. In short, that is self-dependence, self-trust, self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, and self-centeredness. And as long as we regard other things and even what we do and ourselves as the well from which our joy springs, all is vanity.

The wise king likened the vanity of everything to grasping the wind. Try to grasp the wind. Did you catch a portion of it? Did the wind stay in your hand? I am sure that it didn’t. And yet that’s what we do, right? We follow hard after the things of this world even though we already know that nothing in this world can satisfy our souls. God intended that the creation be for man’s enjoyment and supplication. The things which are external to man and even the things that man can produce are not intended to be the source of his joy and satisfaction. God literally walked with our first parents in the Garden of Eden and I must speculate that God was their joy and God was most glorified in them for they were most satisfied in Him. Until the Fall of man happened.

One of the results of man’s radical fallenness is that his disposition was changed from something that delights in God to something that is rebellious against Him. Man’s heart is no longer captivated by God’s glory. That’s why the Bible says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)”. Man’s heart became so stone cold towards God but it desires sin and the poisonous effects that it brings. We lack the regard for God’s glory, that is what falling short of God’s glory means. Thus, although we knew God, we did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in our thoughts, and our foolish hearts were darkened (Rom. 1:21). Instead of pursuing the Creator, we pursued the things of the world. The external things which are not meant to satisfy our souls are now the things that enslave us and at the same time the things that we pursue.

We live in a time where there are lots of things around us that are designed in order to attempt to satisfy the needs of men. These things are being fed to us on a daily basis. In this world of self and instant gratification, we see the big role that the media plays. The media shows us what our flesh desires and creates in us a craving for more entertainment — a means which can never get through the depths of the heart. The social media is flooded with contents which aim to inspire, motivate, and push us to be better or to pursue self-advancement. While there is some good in that, we know for sure that such things can still leave us lifeless and unsatisfied. The default of men today is to turn to the world for satisfaction even though they know already that a vanity piled on top of another vanity will just end up in vanity.

Having known these things, let us go back to Solomon’s conclusion:

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11

I want you to look back on the things that you’ve said and done in the past years, months, weeks, or even days. Now, can you honestly tell that most of your time were spent glorifying God, seeking Him, pursuing Him, following Him? When was the last time you drink a glass of water for His glory? When was the last time that you did not let a day skip without reading His word? When was the last time you slipped away from the noise of this world to get alone with God in worship and prayer? When was the last time that the Lord is the desire of your hearts? Were the things you said and done pleasing to God? Can you say that the way you lived your life prior to this day was worth it?

The Bible teaches us,

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15–17

If most of your answers to the diagnostic questions above are negative, then you really have to admit that God is no longer your joy. You have to humbly admit with all honesty that you need to repent and to turn to God. The Bible teaches that we should not love the world or the things of the world. We had once walked in the pattern of this world, we had once gratified ourselves with the pleasures of this world, we had once boast in ourselves and in what we did. Now it is time to abandon all those things because the world is passing away and everything in it. That is what Solomon is talking about — that the end of everything in this world is vanity.

But we have to admit that it is hard to let go of the things which we once held dear to us. We had attachments to the temporal and the material which made us detached from the spiritual, from the things of God and from God Himself. We had habits which don’t bring glory to God. We had sins that we love. We had become self-centered that we have forgotten that our lives should be about God and for God. But I truly believe that if we understand that Christ is the only one who is all-satisfying and that in Him is the fullness of joy, we will surely leave every vanity that is in the world.

Look to Christ: Joy in Christ and Christ as joy

You see, no matter what things we make as our own means of finding joy — whether it is our hobbies, work, studies, endless TV series, gratification in social media, approval and appraise of men, and even relationships and our church ministries — we will never be joyful with joy that lasts. The reason for this is that it is only that in God’s presence the fullness of joy is found and satisfying pleasures are in Him alone (Psalm 16:11).

We express through our worship songs that the Lord is the fountain that won’t run dry. But when was the last time we come to Him for a drink of living water? What we always do is that we take the road back to Egypt and drink its bitter waters. We, as Christians, are not ignorant that God is there but we always exercise negligence of Him and in so doing we willfully forsake Him for the sake of the unprofitable things of the world. We love the bitter waters of the world which unknowingly poisons us and drains the life out of us. We forget that life is only found in the Lord and that anything outside of Jesus Christ is a total absurdity. We are not even ashamed that we no longer have the desire to “taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)”. When was the last time that we are one with the Psalmist when he said:

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:1–2

Now I am calling you to come to Jesus and see Him as the all-satisfying one, the never-ending joy for our hearts. The joy that is found in Him alone is the only joy that can make our hearts like a well-watered garden. Consider the Apostle Paul with his credentials:

If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. Philippians 3:4–6

Just like Solomon, Paul had his labors. He once boasted what he was and his confidence in his flesh produced in him a false zeal that led to the persecution of many early believers. But for Paul, it wasn’t too late. He wrote to Timothy,

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 1 Timothy 1:12–13

Paul obtained mercy from God and He was saved by the grace of God. His encountered with Christ changed him in a dramatic way that he became passionate to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having known Christ and having saved by Him, this is his amazing resolve:

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed** I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord**, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ Philippians 3:7–8

Paul was able to count all things as loss because he knew to whom he should be running. He knew what his life should be about. He knew that Christ is His ultimate gain. He knew that Christ alone can bring him satisfaction. When he encountered Christ, his confidence in himself was gone. His pride that once stood high was knocked down. His disposition was changed. When he met Christ in all of His beauty and glory, his emptiness surfaced and that made him want Christ more. Indeed, all things were vanity for Paul and he counted them as loss for the sake of having his all-satisfying Savior. For Paul, nothing is more supreme or excellent than the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, he understood the true essence of eternal life — to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3).

We know that Christ important. But do we know that He is the most important? May our resolve be like that of the Apostle Paul’s. May Christ reign supreme in our heart so that we will no longer run after the things of this world. Life is in Christ alone and He Himself is the Life. Real and lasting joy is found in Him alone and only Him must be our satisfaction.

Now, I am calling you not only to look behind you but more importantly to forget what is behind and to look forward to what lies ahead. Just like what Paul said,

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, Philippians 3:13

You cannot do anything about your past. The world will not change anytime soon. The evil and the vanity in this world will grow worse. But understand that we are pilgrims here. This world is not our home so let your eyes be stamped with eternity as you run this race:

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,** looking unto Jesus**, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1–2

When being drawn into the world, when the world is trying to lure you into its vain pleasures, just remember that you are not of this world, you are already in Christ. Thus,

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1–3

The only life that is worth living is the life lived for Christ. In the world is vanity, but in Christ our end is glory.

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