Let’s find JOY in the REWARD of our own LABOR
July 10 Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes Chapters 4-6
"Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor--this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart." (Eccl. 5:18-20)
There is a popular viewpoint in the Christian circles these days that we should live austere simplistic lives and be in a constant state of mourning to attain the spirituality that God requires from us. This notion is far from the truth as it does not define the abundant life that Christ has gifted us (see John 10:10). King Solomon hits the nail on its head by stating that we cannot discover the real value of our efforts in this life unless we receive with thanks what God has given us and enjoy it. Enjoyment is a gift of God, and we should be motivated by the brevity of our lives in order to experience it!
What is required from us is to enjoy the basic activities of daily life like food, work, family and leisure. God intends that we should enjoy the benefits of our work as a due reward of our labor. God is the source of the riches that we enjoy, as it is clear from the words of Moses: "And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth" (Deut. 8:18). It is an ideal situation and a special gift of God when God gives us the wealth and at the same time He gives us the ability to enjoy the products and services that we can purchase from this wealth. The ability for us to enjoy our earthly labor comes from God-given grace that He grants to both rich and poor alike (v. 12).
Let us also understand that God gives us joy from the fruit of our labor to preoccupy our minds so that we do not brood over the brevity of our lives or, even its tragedies and inequalities. On the other hand, God allows us to delight in Himself, His Word (Ps. 1:2), and then with the gifts that He gives us. So, let us adopt a perspective that will allow us to enjoy the simple things of this life, and we should view them as gifts from God alone for "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17). When we attain this perspective in life, our hearts will overflow with joy as we consider the bountiful blessings that God bestows upon us every day. "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!" (Psalms 68:19)
Let us also consider a similar proverb that tells us that "better a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind" (4:6). We should consider the relative value of having some important things with contentment than having great wealth with trouble. These important things include a right relationship with God (Prov. 15:16) and family (Prov. 15:17) along with peace in the home (Prov. 17:1) and personal integrity (Prov. 28:6).
When we know God and seek to live our lives before Him in a way that pleases Him, we will be living wisely. Wise living involves learning to assess the relative value of choices we might make, and choosing those things that have lasting value. Let us be thankful that God not only shares His gifts with us but also enables us to enjoy them as well. Let us get into a life vocation that we will really enjoy spending our time doing and for which we will always be grateful to God. Let us find joy in the reward of our own labor every day!