Who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?
Some Christians today hate their work, but some Christians go to the other extreme–they worship their work. That is their identity in life. But that is not the way to live your life.
Why is it not smart to worship your work? One reason is found in Ecclesiastes 2:18-19. Solomon said, “I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity.” I bet you have seen this before: somebody pours all their effort into building a business, and they pass it on to their children. And it takes their children just a few years to drive that business into the ground. Maybe Solomon was writing from experience here. He had been king for forty years when his son Rehoboam succeeded him, and it took Rehoboam less than a year to tear apart the country in a civil war. Solomon concluded, “Why build your life around your work when you are going to end up leaving it to somebody else?”
Even if you never retire, one day you are going to leave your work behind when you die. In Luke 12, Jesus told a story about the ultimate workaholic. This man could not sleep because he was thinking about what he was going to do with all his profits. But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” (v. 20). For one reason or another, one day you will no longer have your work. And one way to make sure you are prepared when that day comes is to lower that job in your mind and your affection–take it off the pedestal now so it will not do damage when it comes crashing down.
You see, in his quest for meaning, Solomon was doing us a great favor by showing us where not to look for joy in life. By doing so, he was pointing us in the right direction. I am reminded of Aesop’s fable about a dog carrying a bone. As the dog walked across a bridge, he looked down in the water and saw a dog carrying a larger bone. Not realizing it was just his reflection, the dog dropped his bone, dove in the water, and ended up going home without any bone at all. The dog gave up the substance in search of the shadow. And in the end, he got nothing.
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon was saying, “Quit chasing after shadows.” The momentary satisfaction you get from your work, from learning, or from pleasure is a mere shadow of the lasting joy that comes from being in a right relationship with God. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 2:25, “Who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Three Ls of an Empty Life” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Aesop, “The Dog & His Reflection,” in “The Aesop for Children,” Library of Congress, https://read.gov/aesop/026.html.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.