Summary: Is work meaningless? According to Solomon it is if you are working for the wrong reason and for the wrong person.
“Is Working Meaningless?”
Ecc. pt 5
Opening Illustration: From Blue Fish TV – “Motivational Message”
Thesis: Is work meaningless? According to Solomon it is if you are working for the wrong reason and for the wrong person.
Scripture Text: Ecc. 4:1-16:
1Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
I saw the tears of the oppressed—
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
and they have no comforter.
2 And I declared that the dead,
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.
3 But better than both
is he who has not yet been,
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.
4And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
5 The fool folds his hands
and ruins himself.
6 Better one handful with tranquillity
than two handfuls with toil
and chasing after the wind.
7Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:
8 There was a man all alone;
he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
a miserable business!
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
10 If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
13Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to take warning. 14The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom. 15I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king’s successor. 16There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Solomon in chapter 4 of our text addresses the issue of work and asks if it has eternal value. He even addresses the subject of the workaholic in our chapter. I came across this text to determine if I was a workaholic and I would like to share it with you to help you evaluate where you are at in your view of life and work:
Twenty Questions: How Do I Know If I’m A Workaholic?
1. Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else?
2. Are there times when you can charge through your work and other times when you can’t?
3. Do you take work with you to bed? On weekends? On vacation?
4. Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most?
5. Do you work more than 40 hours a week?
6. Do you turn your hobbies into money-making ventures?
7. Do you take complete responsibility for the outcome of your work efforts?
8. Have your family or friends given up expecting you on time?
9. Do you take on extra work because you are concerned that it won’t otherwise get done?
10. Do you underestimate how long a project will take and then rush to complete it?
11. Do you believe that it is okay to work long hours if you love what you are doing?
12. Do you get impatient with people who have other priorities besides work?
13. Are you afraid that if you don’t work hard you will lose your job or be a failure?
14. Is the future a constant worry for you even when things are going very well?
15. Do you do things energetically and competitively including play?
16. Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work in order to do something else?
17. Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?
18. Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep or when others are talking?
19. Do you work or read during meals?
20. Do you believe that more money will solve the other problems in your life?
If you answer "yes" to three or more of these questions you may be a workaholic. Relax. You are not alone.
The truth is we do need to look at our jobs seriously but we also need to evaluate what our motivation is at work. Who are we working for and what eternal value does our job really have? We need to ask if we work for God, for a paycheck, for self gratification or even for others.