Our culture says life is gain, do you believe this?
3What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?
This week I’ve been thinking a lot about this word, “gain”, which comes up several times here in Ecclesiastes (2:11; 2:15; 3:9; 5:16; 6:8). Throughout Ecclesiastes there is a note of despair that keeps sounding as The Teacher wrestles deeply with the bitter reality that life is short. So the question is asked, “What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?”
For me, it resonates with times where I’ve had the opportunity to tackle something new and I’ve thought, “What will I get out of this?” Sometimes it’s a question I’ve asked more out of a selfish protection of my own time. Other times it’s asked wondering whether there is any point to it at all.
Throughout Ecclesiastes there are a number of reasons why The Teacher concludes that there is nothing to be gained from all our toil. And a lot of these reasons are true. It’s true that for all our work and effort, they perish with us at death. (Ecc. 3:20 ) It’s true that whether you live a life of wisdom or folly, death is the fate of both (Ecc. 9:2). And sometimes the fool will end up better off (Ecc. 2:18-19). All of these things lead The Teacher to repeat this question, “What do people gain…?”
But another word which appears in Ecclesiastes is the word, “gift”. It only features twice (3:13; 5:19), but it’s an important word because it points to the good gifts of life granted to us by God. It’s a change of mindset from striving for a life of gain to accepting our life as gift. Our life is a gift from God.
Most wonderful of all God’s gifts, is his gift of eternal life that he gives to us through Jesus. God gave his only Son so that we shall not perish, but have eternal life. This is God’s incredible grace that he’s lavished on us in Jesus (Eph. 1:7-8). And it’s this gift of God which also frees us from the despair of striving for a life of gain.
Head: What are some ways that our culture tells us to adopt the view that “life is gain”?
Heart: How does it make you feel knowing that the cross has freed you from a life striving for gain?
Hands: What would it look like for you to live a life of “thankfulness” in response to God’s generous gift?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you for the gift of your Son. Thank you that Jesus laid down his life to pay the price for my sin, that he died and rose again from the grave. Thank you that he did that for me. By your Spirit, help me to cherish each day as a wonderful gift from your good hand. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
A Song to Listen to: Once Again
This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of the Must See Passages series in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.