Theology of Work


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S (Scripture): Ecclesiastes 5:13 There is a grievous ill that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owners to their hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture; though they are parents of children, they have nothing in their hands. 15 As they came from their mother’s womb, so they shall go again, naked as they came; they shall take nothing for their toil, which they may carry away with their hands. 16 This also is a grievous ill: just as they came, so shall they go; and what gain do they have from toiling for the wind? 17 Besides, all their days they eat in darkness, in much vexation and sickness and resentment.

18 This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot. 19 Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For they will scarcely brood over the days of their lives, because God keeps them occupied with the joy of their hearts.

O (Observation):  Solomon has seen what wealth can do to a person.  Wealth can turn a person inward, caring only for himself or herself.   To what end?   To a cold and lonely end.    When a rich person dies, that person cannot take their earthly goods with them.   Toiling is not bad…but if one toils to gain more things…one does so in vain.  

But Solomon gives us another view of toil: joy in contentment.   Brooding over the work gains nothing.   Instead, find the work God has called each to do, and in that, find joy!

A (Application): I continue to be amazed at our capitalistic society in the US and the growing discontent we have in our lives.   The gadgets and gizmos and vacations we all desire can drive us away from contentment and towards a poor view of our work:  work = money for stuff.   

The joy of work gives us purpose and a way to contribute to society.   The wonderful part of capitalism is the opportunity to explore any of your callings and to seek to be paid for it.   However, the downfall of capitalism is that those who cannot work, or those who cannot see work as something to be enjoyed decide that they don’t fit in, and thus, end up on the streets or living off of handouts.  

I pray that everyone find the inherent dignity in all of humanity.   I pray that everyone find the calling God has instilled in them.  I pray that we are all compassionate enough help those whose work does not allow them enough pay to live on their own.   

I pray that we all enjoy our work for the sake of bringing God glory!

P (Prayer):  Lord, help us to be thankful and grateful for our callings in this world!  Amen.

Being Content

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S (Scripture): Ps 104:15 [The Lord provides] wine that makes people feel so good, and so they can have oil to make their faces shine, as well as food that sustains people’s lives.

O (Observation): Throughout Psalm 104, the psalmist praises God as the ruler of the world who sustains all life. With a Provider that makes these delightful things – wine, oils, food – one can see that our God provides for our needs.

A (Application): Keeping the devotion light today. When I saw this verse, I got to thinking about contentment. Wine, oils, food. These can be very basic, but we’ve also created markets and artificial demands on these types of gifts that God has given to us.

I enjoy wine, some oils on my dry knees, and food. Unfortunately, we’ve skewed things. Instead of praising The Lord for provisions, we declare, “I want more. Give me something I haven’t seen before. Give me so much I get addicted to exotic wines and oils and food!”

Let us enjoy the simple things. Let us enjoy unadorned wine, simple oils, and basic food portions. Let us be content. God provides. Let us simply enjoy what’s been given.

Where do you need to step back and simply enjoy God’s provision, rather than going for exotic? Where do you experience this challenge the most?

P (Prayer): Lord, provide for us, and give us content hearts. Amen.