Toil is Meaningless - 7/15/2012Ecclesiastes: The book speaks direct truth and each time I read it, it is a humbling reminder to glorify God first and foremost in all we do. I do a terrible job of this and it's an understatement to say I have room for improvement in this area.
The NIV translation says the following in Ch. 2 starting in verse 17.
V. 17 - So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
V. 18 - I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.
V. 19 - And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.
V. 20 - So my heart began to dispair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.
V. 21 - For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.
When I read this passage, it evokes a reaction to think negatively about why we're even here on this earth. If everything is meaningless, then what's the point of living and breathing, working and playing, and wanting to be successful relative to my or world's definition of it?
What I appreciate about the "Teacher" and his words in this book is that he doesn't leave the reader without action steps to manage through the above reality.
A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
I believe that God's design and plan is for us to love Him first and please God through our work - which is very difficult.
Paul told the Colossians, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
I always want more money, more responsibility, more recognition, and more success. What a waste of God-given talent if I don't focus on Him and ask Him if I'm pleasing Him through my work. God doesn't care about a title or how much recognition I get. If I'm not glorifying Him through my daily interactions with people or by the way I live, it's all meaningless in the eternal perspective.
Prayer for finding meaning in my work:
Dear Lord I pray that I will have the courage and willngness to place You first in my daily effort to do more and be more in the workplace. I pray that Your guidance and Your will keep my path focused and honest. I want to serve You through my language, my efforts, and my earnings which You provide. I am no good at this yet but want to be. I struggle with keeping You in the forefront of my thoughts each day and I get distracted from the eternal perspective and only Your involvement in my life can improve that. I have to do my work with You in mind in order to begin down the path that you have laid out for me. I pray God that when the opportunity to glorify You through my words and actions at work presents itself that I will be bold enough to do so, each and every time. I love You and pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.