Finding Purpose in Your Work
Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward.
This Sunday we are going to conclude Ecclesiastes 5. As I have prepared for this message v18 reminded me of a previous statement concerning work that Solomon made back in chapter 2:24
There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.
Both Ecclesiastes 5:18 and 2:24 serve as a reminder that God uses the fruit from the toil of work to reward those who labor well. Ultimately the person who labors well understands that toil is to be expected. Work was never intended to be filled with comfort, there is great treasure in the toil. In fact, making excuses not to work could actually be unhealthy.
John Ortberg in his book, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, shares this finding:
Too much comfort is dangerous—literally.
Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley did an experiment some time ago that involved introducing an amoeba into a perfectly stress-free environment: ideal temperature, optimal concentration of moisture, constant food supply. The amoeba had an environment to which it had to make no adjustment whatsoever.
So you would guess this was one happy little amoeba. Whatever it is that gives amoebas ulcers and high blood pressure was gone.
Yet, oddly enough, it died.
Apparently there is something about all living creatures—even amoebas—that demands challenge. We require change, adaptation, and challenge the way we require food and air. Comfort alone will kill us.
(John Ortberg, Zondervan Publishing House, 2001)
Solomon clearly teaches throughout Ecclesiastes that to enjoy work—and the fruitful reward—is a good thing.
There are two basic elements that are crucial to your enjoyment of work: balance and motivation. Balance has to do with overcoming the dysfunction of becoming a workaholic. Work can become a means to fulfill a need in an unhealthy way. Obviously this is dysfunctional. For a workaholic, work is a compulsion that they use to fulfill a need that only God can accomplish.
The other element is motivation. The joy one finds in his or her work has a lot to do with the purpose behind the labor. Understanding that God has given you a platform to “toil” well in a dysfunctional world should serve as great motivation to reflect His image through the labor of your hands.
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