When it comes to work, we Christians struggle daily with the secular world.
The morals defined by the world often conflict directly with what God tells us to do. We work hard to pay the bills, but face the temptation to love money more than God. We take pride in the quality of our work, and it is hard to remember that it is not us who make great things happen, but God.
I am thankful that I’ve grown up going through various difficult experiences that taught me certain principles to live by, and the same principles are verbalized in the Bible.
Here is one Bible paragraph that over time, I’ve gradually structured my life around because it’s so easy to follow.
It comes from the book of Ecclesiastes, which deals with the philosophical dilemmas that people face daily – Why is life so unfair? Why do evil people prosper? What’s the point of working hard?
I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. (Ecc 3:12-13)
This para is both profound and simple in its directive.
Happiness reigns supreme, and people will define happiness in their own ways. The temptation to be happy for one’s selfish sake or egoistic gain is cancelled out by the call to “do good”.
Doing good is self explanatory – it calls for team work, going the extra mile, and being a good guy on the job. I can be a real tough cookie on the job who takes no crap from anyone, but are my intentions noble and for a positive outcome? I have to keep asking myself that.
And doing good calls for one not to play dirty politics, to be clear and transparent at all times.
Why do people play politics? When I was 25, I coined this theory when chatting with my uni lecturer Constance Chay: “People who are not competent enough, play politics”.
These days, I add another sentence: “People play politics when they’re not working hard enough”.
You get the gist.
Back to the verse, some people might mistake “To eat and drink” as to justify being a glutton or alcoholic, but what God is really saying here is to enjoy one’s food, not overdo it. Unfortunately, it does make one overweight when he/she enjoys their food and drink too much.
And a very important thing is to “find satisfaction” in his toil”. People talk about job satisfaction, but why do they stay on in jobs that make them unhappy and resentful? God knows we become restless and bored, and job satisfaction is always critical.
Over the past decade, I’ve encouraged many people to leave their unhappy job state, but very few actually do anything to improve their situation. It could be that I’m a really lousy persuader, but it’s more like that people are inert and prefer to remain in their “comfort” zone, nevermind that they’re not really comfortable at all.
To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (Ecc 2:26)
You know, a lot of people don’t appreciate the value of wisdom, knowledge or happiness.
There is no price to pay for any of these, really, but people often put a price tag to it. The most uneducated person can be the wisest, the quietest man be endowed with reams of knowledge from observation and the person with the least wealth can be the happiest.
Yet we often see around us, people who chase the same three things, but bark up the wrong tree because they don’t know God gives all these for free to those who fear and love Him.
I spend a lot of my time seeking those three things, because when you have all three, you lack nothing.
How about money like the new mega-churches of today like to preach in their “health and wealth” doctrine? Where does money come into this?
My brothers and sisters, common sense will tell us that if you possess wisdom, knowledge and happiness, you will have enough money to get by.
God provides, and I’m so thankful for Him.