And I hated all my labor wherein I labored under the sun, seeing that I must leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he will be a wise man or a fool? yet will he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity. Therefore I turned about to cause my heart to despair concerning all the labor wherein I had labored under the sun. For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, and with knowledge, and with skillfulness; yet to a man that hath not labored therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.
Each of us chooses to build life a certain way. When he was young, his father instilled in him the value of a good work ethic. During those formative years, working hard was how he gained his father’s attention and approval. In many ways, being a hard worker would serve him well in life. He never went unnoticed in the workplace, and he received every promotion he went after. The downside was that he became a workaholic who found his value and identity only in the work that he did. He poured himself into his labor and believed that he was truly building something worthwhile that would last. However, the end of his life came just like everyone else’s, and all of that work was left behind. What he attempted to build with the labor of his hands would fade away just as quickly as his life.
There is much to be said for someone who knows how to work hard. In God’s kingdom, He is looking for dedicated laborers. Today’s scripture is not instruction for us to take it easy and give ourselves a break. Today’s scripture is asking us to take a moment and evaluate the purpose of our labor. If we are working for worldly gain and are only concerned with the earthly results of our work, our labor will end in disappointment. We will not find fulfillment in what we accomplish for self-serving purposes. We do not want our labor to be in vain; we want the grueling work that we do to mean something. If we focus our efforts in labor on working for God and for his kingdom, with his goals and purposes in mind, then this work has some eternal value no matter what our industry, sector or position.
It is no secret that people are searching for meaning and purpose in life. No one wants to think that the decades we spend here planning and working and achieving are for nothing. Unfortunately, many people will live and die that way. They either will not realize that they have the ability to work for God’s everlasting kingdom, or they know but reject the notion of being one of his labors. Either way, what results is labor that comes and goes as swiftly as life itself, not adding a single day or ounce of value to it. Let us pray that those we know who labor in vain will one day come to be laborers in the kingdom. Father, remind us that as your children we do all things as unto You, and keep us faithful and eternally productive in the work we do.