Occupational Hazards

So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind (Eccl.2:17).

Most of us are not content to live a life of meaninglessness. We have that which we want to do, and that which we must, and in all we try to find a sense of purpose in all of our efforts. None of us want to reach our final days only to look back in disappointment and regret. We hope, instead , to look back at a life that was full and purposeful--a life full of accomplishment that will mean something to others even after we have passed on.
Where each of us finds a sense of purposeful living is sure to differ from one person to the next, yet we still cannot escape the need to attach meaning to our lives, and purpose to our efforts. We are sure to meet up with some people who would truly find a lacking of purpose in their lives, yet that is a concept too painful to face, and so they go on day to day and simply ignore the possibilities that their lives are like a chasing after the wind.
The writer of Ecclesiastes explains:

Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise [man] or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This [is] also vanity. Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun. For there is a man whose labour [is] in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it [for] his portion. This also [is] vanity and a great evil (vs.18-21).

This is the picture of a man who sees his efforts as futile and his work as vanity. He despairs in that he sees that in the end, all of his work will seem to mean nothing. It will be forgotten, and what it produced will be consumed by those left behind, and even with them it will soon vanish.
We consider the day we will look back and wonder what we have to show for all of our work--all of our "toil under the sun." Seldom do we measure such and event in dollar signs, business conquests or scholastic degrees. But we hope instead to see things that are more lasting, such as the lasting impressions we made in the lives of family members, or the lasting influence we might have been to someone who needed a good Christian role model. Perhaps our accomplishments will be seen in the time we spent with someone in need, or the moments we put aside self long enough to share Jesus with one who needed to know who God really is--and that He came to save all of us.
We do not know the impact we will make on many people around us, but we have an opportunity to make that impact. Perhaps almost everyday, in the way we care for others or show kindness or thoughtfulness to someone who is just having a rotten day; perhaps in that we make a difference. Perhaps it is in leading someone as he prays to God to forgive him, and to be his Lord. And no matter how we share Jesus with another, whether in word or deed, in time or in love, we can rest assured that such labor is lasting and never in vain.
We have a limited amount of resources in this life. Our time, money and energy are exhaustible. But if we seek God's wisdom with these things, we will find that we have much to offer, and that even the simplest gestures have lasting benefits. Sharing our Lord and His love with others is an investment in eternity. It is never in vain, always beneficial, and certainly something we can one day look back on with fondness--and never regret.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).


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