All is Vanity - Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 (Part 3)
What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
Nothing. Work is hebel. We work our whole lives and yet what gain do we really get? We get money but money won’t last. We may accomplish something great but it won’t change the basic problems of the world, sin and death will still exist. And there’s no ultimate satisfaction in work because its never done. Julie says to me that a mother’s work is never done and that’s true but its true of all work. The builder can work his whole life and never finish building everything that needs to be built. The preacher can preach his whole life and never preach enough so that no one needs to preach ever again. So, there is no ultimate gain from all of our work under the sun.
But that is the key phrase in this verse, ‘under the sun’. This phrase shows us that Solomon is talking about this world specifically. Again, the perspective is only on this world. And we can see that this is true if we are thinking only of this world.
But when we change our perspective to thinking about God and about our eternal reward in heaven we can see that our work can have a lot of gain if we are working for God. Jesus said in Matthew chapter 22 that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbours as ourselves. We can do that in our work, in any kind of work. Not just in what we normally think of as Christian work. We can love God in our work by following His commands in our work. We can love our neighbours through our work because all legitimate jobs serve other people. And as we fear God and obey His commandments in our work we are working not for worldly gain that is passing away but rather for rewards that are eternal.
When we think of our work in this way, as a way of working for eternal rewards then we can see that there is great gain in all the toil at which we toil. But not under the sun because everything in this life is hebel, vanity, but rather our reward is in heaven and that gain is eternal.