Why Work?

If God has created us to work for his glory, how should we then work? First, Solomon says, enjoy your work and the fruit of it, because both are a gift from the hand of God. Rather than fretting over what would become of all his work, Solomon learned to consider God’s gift of today: to eat, to drink, to enjoy what God has given. In looking back on the perils of his work and the subsequent fruit of his labors, Martin Luther did not recount how arduous his work was but instead said, “I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing.  And while I slept, or drank … beer with my friends … the Word [did its work].”[7] Work hard, find enjoyment in it (as best you can), and then enjoy a meal and good drink with friends, thanking God for his gracious providence, “for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment”? (2:25).

What Does It Profit?

What Solomon faced is not unique but common to us all. How often do we look for significance in the wisdom and ways of this world, when all that we need we have in Christ. How often are we frustrated with this life, because it’s not heaven? How often do we pursue gain in this world forgetting that the way of the world is death but the way of the cross is life? Jesus said,

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:34-36).

Indeed, the greatest gain is given: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The Folly of Worldly Temptations

Looking back on his life, Solomon saw clearly the brevity of life, the futility of worldliness, indeed the vanity of all under the sun. The story of his life told a tragedy of misspent blessing, but it need not be repeated. What is the story of your life telling? Is it one of faith, surrender, and dependence upon our Lord, characterized by forgiveness and love? Is it worthy of Christlike imitation? Or does it tell the story of vanity, striving after the wind, nothing gained under the sun?

What Is Your Life?

One day, not too many years ago, when all my children were still at home, my oldest son told me that his Sunday School teacher was beginning a new study on Ecclesiastes. I was elated. Ecclesiastes is my favorite Old Testament book, if not my favorite book in the Bible. Unfortunately, my son didn’t share my enthusiasm. After prying a little deeper, I found out why. His teacher had given the class a one-sentence summary of Ecclesiastes: “Life stinks and then you die” (except he didn’t say “stinks”).