A fool’s work wearies him; he does not know the way to town. Ecclesiastes 10, verse 15.
Awhile back – actually it was a few years ago now – my friend, Patrick, preached at church sermon on vocation. It stuck with me because he was talking about how work is a Godly thing, about how we each have a vocation, not just a job, and how that vocation (our working in it) can be a thing of worship.
Do fools feel that way? Do we? I mean, I don’t hold with the way of thinking that hates Monday, hates working 40 hours a week, hates having to clock in, and hates the idea of having to work. To me, that seems like a class warfare attitude, not a healthy or realistic way of looking at something necessary. I don’t look at my life as ‘a gimme.’ I was put here to do something, to earn my way in the world. It’s true that I wouldn’t have picked the career I’m in if someone had told me what it would be like way back when I was sixteen. It’s also true that, with the career I’m in, I and my family (and even some others around me) have been undeniably blessed. Good things have come from the jobs my wife and I do, even the ones and the times when we didn’t like what we were doing. In this world, we have to work to survive. Not only, we were created to be blessed by work, not cursed by it.
In my blindered-way of thinking, only a fool would let his work weary him. This isn’t talking about long days, or when you’ve given all you have to give and ‘they’ still want more, or giving it your best and that not being enough. If you work, you have days like these; maybe even whole jobs like these. Instead, it’s calling out folks who are antagonistic to work. Those who see work as a burden, a curse, or something negative miss the point of work: it’s a gift of God intended to bring Him glory and us improvement.
Thus, it shouldn’t be surprising to stand behind the guy who grumbles about having to clock in at the start of his shift and be turned off by his negativity. It shouldn’t be surprising to find that the arguments of folks who rail against success or achievement are usually based on envy and antagonism. People who let their work weary them, who look at it as a bad thing, are fools. And like we said yesterday, all things apart from God are sin, and all sin is foolishness. Living a negative outlook towards work is, therefore, sinful. If this is your outlook, not only don’t you know the way to town: you may not know the way to heaven.
It also shouldn’t be surprising that when you have a great day at work, you know you’ve done a good thing. You feel good about it. When you finish a hard task, you feel fulfilled. That’s no coincidence: it’s a blessing. If we dig into learning about what we’ll do in heaven, should it be surprising to learn that we will probably have work to do there, that it’ll be God-glorifying and human-fulfilling work to do in an eternity of praise, wonder and adventure? Work can be something to look forward to. In fact, we should look forward to it. Just ask anyone who’s unemployed: they would love to work but can’t. They get it.
God bless the folks who work because they are financially strapped, or because they are striving for something better, or because they’re doing the only thing they know how to do to provide for their families. Those folks are doing the Lord’s work. But the next time you or I stand behind the grumbler or listen to the complainer, how about we offer up a prayer for their encouragement, and then remind ourselves that their outlook is flawed and that there is a better way.