WHAT PROFIT HAS A MAN FROM ALL HIS WORK?
What’s there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone? This is a question that was put forth by King Solomon thousands of years ago. Now we are living in the 21st century and many are still asking the same question. However, there is many more standing in the unemployment line and seeking a job in order to work, an opportunity to find the answer for themselves to this age old question.
Tonight before a joint session of congress, President Obama will introduce a bill to put America back to work, giving all those who want to experience for themselves what profit has a man from all his work?
In order to write this lesson, I ask several friends of mine this question; “What do you work for? A friend name John Paul said “To make a killing.” Another friend name Martha who works as a salesperson on a straight commission, I asked her what she works for and she replied; “to make a living.” Next, I called my cousin who is a congresswoman who I know that loves the adrenaline of debate, the reward of accomplishment, the warm fever of ideology. I ask her “What is it that she works for? She said I work to make my mark.” Yet another person who is a very close personal friend I tried to pin him down to some specifics. I asked him why he works and he replied, “To earn money of course.” I then said to him, why do want to earn money? He paused for a moment and gave me a strange look and said, “I have to eat, and I need money to buy food.” So I posed another question, “Why do you need food to eat? He said with an annoying tone, to maintain my strength. I said O.K., but why do you want to maintain your strength? I need my strength in order to go to work. I said, now you are right back where you begin when I asked you the question of why do you work? You work to get money to buy food to get strength to work to get money to buy food to get strength, and so on, ad infinitum.
A pastor friend of mind told me that during a winter snow storm he saw a woman crying at a bus stop, he asked her if he could be of any help. “Oh,” she replied, “I’m just weary and bored. My husband is a hard worker, but he doesn’t earn as much as I needed. So I went to work. I get up early every morning, fix breakfast for our four children, pack lunches, and take a bus to my job. Then I return home for more drudgery, a few hours of sleep, and another day just like the one before. I guess I’m just sick of this endless routine.”
For at least eight hours a day, forty hours a week, two thousand hours a year, and one hundred thousand hours a lifetime, nearly every one of us works. By comparison, even death and taxes seem less certain. One would think that, giving its enormous grip on each of our lives, work would form a fist of significance, a handshake of common destiny.
Yet the reality is less convincing. Instead of doing work as our destiny, is a calling from God, we force our jobs to work for us; our work, we are led to believe, must make something happen outside of its own inherent value. And in an effort to make that something else happen, we are like a manic clown with balloons, twist motivation into strange and entertaining shapes.
For many people, work is or at least becomes a means to something else, a perceived greater reality. Frankly, many of us see work as a sort of cosmic arcade game where we line up the hours and shoot between blindfolded eyes. Sheer repetition dulls us to the inherent emptiness inflicted on our spirit.
We kill time. We lose perspective. Boredom or addiction creeps in. A great Author name Frederick Buechner once wrote these words:
“The world is full of people who in one way or another are by and large merely “getting through” their lives, who are killing their time, who are living so much on the surface of things and are so bad at hearing each other and seeing each other that it is little wonder that one life seems enough….There are lots of people who get into the habit of thinking of their time as not so much an end in itself, a time to be lived and loved and filled full for its own sake, but more as just a kind of way-station on the road to somewhere else, to a better job or the next vacation or whatever, and all the interim time that remains to be killed starts looming up like a great mountain that has to be climbed, so that if there were a little button somewhere that we could push to make it disappear all at once, I am not sure how many of us would have the strength not to push it.”
Now King Solomon was very clear on how he saw this matter of work, and he left us to ponder the question for ourselves. In doing so we must think deeply on how God must feel, after all, he was the one that created work. However, before I introduce you to God’s masterpiece, let us look at what King Solomon had to say, and this is what Solomon told us, he said;
“What’s there to show for a lifetime of work,
a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old planet earth.
The sun comes up and the sun goes down,
then does it again, and again—the same old round.
The wind blows south, the wind blows north.
Around and around and around it blows,
blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
but the sea never fills up.
The rivers keep flowing to the same old place,
and then start all over and do it again.
Everything’s boring, utterly boring—
no one can find any meaning in it.
Boring to the eye,
boring to the ear.
What was will be again,
what happened will happen again.
There’s nothing new on this earth.
Year after year it’s the same old thing.
Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”?
Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody will remember them either.
Don’t count on being remembered.” (Ecclesiastes 1:3-11 (MSG)
Now I say to you, think on this, God set the example as our very first worker. He did not introduce such an attitude about his work as we see it. Suppose God had asked himself the question, “What am I working for? Instead, God rolled up his sleeves and He worked for six days, with light and atoms and dirt and fire and water, the elemental, and he was satisfied. He did not wish to make a killing or a living or a buck or a mark. He worked and, stepping back from the results saw that it was good. The question that I leave you with is this, “How do you see it?”
May your spiritual mind be transformed into the manifestation that everything under the sun is the reality of the work God did in order to teach us that we must work in order to maintain what he created for us to enjoy as we pass through this life into our next life. I leave you with my peace that you may think globally and work locally. I remain your brother in Christ, Pastor Davis/Master Teacher.