How can we ‘TRULY PROFIT’ from all our earthly LABOR? "As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand. And this also is a severe evil-- just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what profit has he who has labored for the wind?" (Eccl. 5:15-16)
In the above passage, Solomon ponders the tragedies of unused and lost wealth. Whatever is not lost “through misfortune” must be left behind at death. Earthly labor appears to be in vain. We come from our mother’s womb empty-handed and must leave this world empty-handed as well. In spite of all the money that we have been able to accumulate during our lifetime, we cannot carry any wealth with us. Cecil Rhodes spent years exploiting the natural resources of South Africa. When he was about to die, he cried out in remorse:
“I’ve found much in Africa. Diamonds, gold and land are mine, but now I must leave them all behind. Not a thing I’ve gained can be taken with me. I have not sought eternal treasures; therefore I actually have nothing at all.”
When believers recognize that their work is a gift from God, work can become a joy (5:18–20). Our work is part of God’s plan to establish His eternal kingdom. In this sense, we can be assured that our faithful commitment to our work will have eternal consequences and reap eternal rewards (see 1 Cor. 3:8, 14; 15:58).
The poor think all their problems will be solved with more money, and the rich have problems because of their money! Money does not satisfy (v. 10), does not guarantee peace (v. 12), is easily lost, and is therefore an unsure foundation for life. "Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." (1 Tim. 6:6-8)
Then how can we truly profit from all our earthly labor? The answer to this is that we should plan and work towards accumulating riches that belong to the kingdom of God. These the words of Jesus Christ in this regard: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt 6:19-21)
Let us be thankful that God not only shares His gifts with us but also enables us to enjoy them. Let us plan to use our energy and labor to work for God’s kingdom so that we can accumulate treasures in heaven above!