I read in Ecclesiastes 4 this morning. Up until this point in the book, King Solomon has gone through a list of things that are “meaningless” to him. It’s a pretty interesting list including: everything (yes, he says everything), wisdom, pleasures, folly, toil, oppression and even friendliness.
You’ll notice that even things we would consider good (e.g. wisdom and friendless) are meaningless.
What seems to be the prevalent theme so far is while everything is meaningless, the only thing left to enjoy is a man’s work.
But that poses a problem.
Ecclesiastes 2:24 (NIV)
24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. […]
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, 22 (NIV)
12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.
22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work […]
If that’s the theme, it seems to contradict Ecclesiastes 2:17-23 where King Solomon says even our work is meaningless.
So how is it that our work is meaningless, yet we are supposed to find satisfaction in it?
The key is to notice what type of work is meaningless.
Work is meaningless when we see it as a “task of gathering and storing up wealth” (Ecclesiastes 2:26). 2:17-23 says we can’t take what we work for with us when we die. We’re forced to hand it over to someone else. Therefore, it is worthless for us to be working for materialistic, earthly or financial gain.
Work that is not meaningless, however, is “from the hand of God” and “endures forever.”
Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 (NIV)
24 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, ^25^ for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
Ecclesiastes 3:14 (NIV)
14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. […]
It is important that the work of our hands are actually the hands of God and not our own. This is the only type of work that will endure forever, change lives, leave a legacy and impact the world. It is only the type of that will give us true satisfaction and enjoyment.
How’s your work life been lately?