Seeing the Good in Your Work
That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God.Ecclesiastes 3:13
“I can’t get no satisfaction!” That’s the cry of meaninglessness, isn’t it! It’s the lyrical scream of a rocker whom some think has it all, yet he constantly spurns the gifts of God for a selfish, godless lifestyle and he just can’t get no satisfaction through all his immoral living. Is your life filled with that cry? Or is there a better way? The Teacher in Ecclesiastes 3:13 speaks of finding satisfaction in one’s toil and thus he provides us with a far more positive message than Mick Jagger, especially around Labour Day.
The Teacher calls it the gift of God to find satisfaction in our toil. The original language speaks of “seeing good” in one’s work. “Seeing” has to do with understanding the good, even with experiencing it. The King James translates, “(T)hat every man ... should enjoy the good of all his labour.” To find satisfaction or pleasure in one’s task – that is the gift of God.
Not all cry out like Mick Jagger. In fact, because of the kindness of God, there are a good many people who eat and drink with pleasure and who find enjoyment in their work, even non-Christians. Their satisfaction is the gift of God. Although their lack of thankfulness to God will testify against them, this does not take away from the fact that God gives them this enjoyment.
Ecclesiastes is filled with statements that are true the world over. Some observations describe the meaningless life, namely, life without God. Then one’s work is little more than an unhappy burden, lacking satisfaction (1:13; 2:11, 17). But other statements remind us of the good purpose we were created for. In these we learn of the mercy of God who provides all people with enjoyable things such as food and drink and work, mitigating the curse that came on our work after we sinned (2:24; 3:13; 5:18; 8:15; 9:7).
We learn that our God is generous. He sends his rain on the just and the unjust alike. If we were to make bricks, He would provide the straw. Actually, He does provide the knowledge, strength, materials, and time for all of our work. These things are his gift. In the beginning the Lord God filled our lives with purpose by commanding us to work the garden and subdue the earth. Today, in his kindness, God still allows many people to experience something of how good and satisfying it is to fulfil one of our created purposes. The Teacher commends this to all people.
The Teacher knows, however, that this is not the whole purpose of man. Even those who see some good in all their toil will someday move on. Their death will mark the end of their contributions and they will no longer be able to get any satisfaction from the work of their hands. The results and benefits will be inherited by another, and who knows what he will do with it (Ecclesiastes 2:19)?
The whole purpose of man is known only by those redeemed in the blood of Jesus Christ. We must therefore receive this verse in a new way, for Ecclesiastes was penned for the benefit of our faith. Others may find some joy in fulfilling one of man’s purposes (work), but we must put work in its proper place in order to truly enjoy it. Our primary purpose is to worship God. In Jesus Christ we have been redeemed to worship God in everything. We are now to perform worship through our work, just as it was God’s purpose for us in the beginning. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Your work is for the glory of God. Do it in that way!
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.1 Corinthians 15:58
The Lord’s work is to do good wherever you are. “Let us not grow weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9) – in all our work, at home, school, and the workplace.
Such a perspective ought to make us work all the better, as those “serving the Lord, and not men” (Colossians 3:23). With Christ as Lord, you can also be assured that “you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:24).
There’s no greater satisfaction than that!