Lonely Worker or Joyful Servant?
I have had some brutal jobs in my life. My current job, however, is the most physically demanding job and my favorite yet. Sure, slinging around 250-pound logs all day might not sound like a blast, but I really do love every day I get to work. Working with two of my closest friends, both of them men striving after Christ, is priceless. We have accountability, community, and great conversation. There is no better job in my mind. In the passage you are about to read, we see the emptiness work can bring when we go at it alone or for the wrong reasons.
- Would you describe your work life as fulfilling or meaningless?
Read the Word
Ecclesiastes 4:7-16 (ESV)
7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
13 Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice. 14 For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. 15 I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with that youth who was to stand in the king's place. 16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
- In verse 8, we see into the life of an individual. What are his eyes never satisfied with? What adjectives would you use to describe this person?
- In verses 9-12, what are four examples the author gave to show us that two are better than one? How do these verses speak to the importance of community?
- Verses 13-16 point out the futility of seeking power and prestige. Why would it be better to remain poor and wise than to pursue these things?
- What is your motivation in the work God has given you to do? Do you identify as a lonely worker or a joyful servant?
Respond to God
In this passage, the author describes a person who is clearly motivated by greed. Yet, this person realizes that he has nobody he is sharing life with, and so his work becomes pointless. There is also a person described as chasing after a position of prestige, only to be forgotten once he dies. Between these two descriptions, however, there is great wisdom about the benefits of having others. When we work for nothing but money or power, we acquire emptiness. But when we work out of joy with the people God has placed in our lives, we find truth.
- If you identify as a lonely worker: Ask God to provide you opportunities to seek him and serve others in your job.
- If you identify as a joyful servant: Thank God for providing you with his goodness.