Studying the book of Ecclesiastes can be difficult. If you focus on the word meaningless, then you’re in for a rough ride. Thankfully, the book we’re using is geared to finding meaning, so even when Solomon can get you down, we end on a good note!
Today, we talked about finding meaning in work, and how easy it can be to get discouraged when you’ve worked all your life to accumulate things, but you don’t have anyone who appreciates them or wants to take care of them. There were many true-life scenarios of how conditions were put on children or business partners about what to do or not do with what was being “given.”
Being in a Bible study with women my own age has been refreshing, because we understand each other at “our stage of life.” Today, we gave permission to one woman to sell her late sister’s dining room suite that was taking up all the space in her condo. We also encouraged another to heed her husband’s and grandson’s advice and sell her piano that no one was playing.
Stuff — we all have it. Nobody really wants it after we’ve gone. Why should they? They didn’t work for it or remember the story behind it. We came to realize that our generation is probably the last that will hold on to our parents’ and grandparents’ stuff out of loyalty. We understand that they lived through the Depression and valued family possessions, but our children or grandchildren don’t. We heard the stories, maybe even visited the “old homeplace,” but our children haven’t. Mine don’t know the stories, because I can’t really remember them myself!
When one person mentioned getting out the china, we all laughed, because we all have it! We have stuff we don’t ever use. If we don’t use it, why should we impose it on those we leave behind?
That’s when she made the comment: “Their iphones and electronics are our crystal and china!”
The question becomes: Why are you working? What is it you’re striving for? If it’s just to accumulate things, then it is meaningless — iphones and china included. That’s when I was drawn to this verse in chapter three:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men: yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Work is important. God gave Adam and Eve work prior to the fall, as they were to care for the garden and name the animals. Sin messed up our perception of work and caused us to dread it. While work can be hard, it is also temporary and shouldn’t be the focus of our life — eternity should.
Finding satisfaction in your work is a gift from God, and we are reminded by Paul:
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.*
So, I’m striving to move my focus from things that will not last to those that will. What about you? Are you holding too tightly to your crystal, china … or iphone? You can’t take it with you.
Grace and Peace