Labor for the Day

January 6, 2013

Yard work, though a favorite hobby, can be a never-ending chore. One week after conquering the jungle of weeds in the front flower bed, the task of planting bushes revealed new weeds had sprung from the hidden roots of the old. Would the evil ever be eliminated? What’s the use of doing all of this? Why not go into the air-conditioned house and take a nap?

The vanity of life in a fallen world is the theme of Ecclesiastes. The Preacher writes:

When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep,then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.  (Ecclesiastes 8:16-17, ESV)

The context of these words is the vanity by which the righteous receive what the wicked deserve, and the wicked receive what the righteous deserve. Life goes on in a never-ending circle. Man can and does try to figure it out, but he will never succeed. Such knowledge is too great for him.

So what do we do?

And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.      (Ecclesiastes 8:15, ESV)

Joy is a gift of God that comes from resting in what he gives for the moment. The weeds in the yard are a testimony to man’s rebellion against God (Gen 3:17-19), but the “seed of the woman” has crushed the head of the “seed of the serpent,” and the restoration of all things has begun. What I consider vain, repetitive work is actually a testimony of God’s redemption. In subduing the earth by the strength that God gives – even for a little while, we point to the reclamation that will be fully realized in Christ. Joy comes as we are faithful to our daily tasks knowing that God has given us this day to serve him.

Whatever you have on your plate today, work with diligence knowing that your labor in the Lord is never in vain (1 Cor 15:58). May he give you joy as you labor in this day he has given you under the sun.

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