Worthless Labor

Ecclesiastes 2:11
“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.”

One of the greatest things in life that can help people is to get a job and work. Working has a way of using a person’s energy and time so that it is not wasted on foolish living. At a very young age, every person needs to learn how to work. One of the greatest problems in our modern-day society is that many people don’t know how to work. This is likely one of the causes of all the emotional syndromes that many people deal with today.

As valuable as work can be to an individual’s life, it can also become futile and feel worthless if it is done for the wrong purpose. The verse above says that the preacher labored, and when he looked at all the works of his hand he determined that “all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” The preacher determined that labor was worthless because of one reason: he labored for himself and not for God. When you look at the preacher’s work, you see that he did everything for himself. Some of the phrases from this chapter that prove this are, “I made me,” “I got me,” “I gathered me,” “I builded me,” and “I planted me.” The common word in all of these phrases is “me.”

The reason the preacher didn’t see in value in the works of his hand was because he did everything for himself. He gathered so that he could have. He made so that he could look at what he had done. He built buildings so that people could see his greatness. Because he made everything that he worked for about himself, he came to a point that the works of his hands were empty and worthless. Several lessons can be learned from this passage so that your works don’t become empty and worthless.

First, when you make yourself of the focus of life, you will always be disappointed with life and everything in it. You can never please yourself because you are a selfish being by your sin nature. The more you feed yourself, the hungrier self becomes. You will never be able to feed yourself enough to fill self’s appetite. If you want your labors to become worthless and empty, all you have to do to make this happen is to center your life about yourself, and you will succeed at feeling everything you do has no profit.

Second, satisfaction and fulfillment in life comes from laboring for others. Proverbs 14:14 says, “…a good man shall be satisfied from himself.” The work you put into your marriage will be satisfying if you are putting the work into your marriage to please your spouse. The work you put into your family will bring fulfillment if you are doing that work to help build your children, and not so that others will think you are a great parent. The labor you put into the LORD’s work will bring great satisfaction and fulfillment if you are laboring to meet the needs of others. All satisfaction is found away from yourself; thus, fulfillment in labor only comes when you labor to meet the needs of others.

Third, everything you do should ultimately be for the LORD. You will find that fulfillment, satisfaction and value of work is discovered when you work to please the LORD, whether it is on the daily job, or simply building things in life. Let me encourage you to stop laboring for yourself, because you will only find the satisfaction you are looking for in the LORD.

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