How to Live (A Study in Ecclesiastes) Lesson #4: Principles Regarding Work

How to Live (A Study in Ecclesiastes)

 Lesson #4 : Principles regarding work (Ecclesiastes 3:15-22)

 In this lesson we will be looking at some of the benefits of work, both physical labor and work done for the Lord. Note that the later can also involve a lot of physical work contrary to what people may say or think. We will also look principles regarding work that are found throughout the book of Ecclesiastes.

In our previous studies we have seen a few things that Solomon said about the work of man under the sun. Solomon said that work is vanity and vexation of the spirit along with unprofitable (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Solomon realized no matter how much he built or how much money he made that in the end he would die and someone else would be in charge of all his labor. In that regard there is no real or lasting profit for us in our work except to sustain our physical life, try to have a little bit of pleasure, and then die. If you think about it there is no real promise of being able to accomplish those things because we never know how long we will live or what hardships we may face. This does not paint a pretty picture for man in this life and that is why Solomon said what he did in Ecclesiastes 2:17-23.

But Solomon also said that you cannot leave God out of the equation. This is what Solomon does after stating the things we have just discussed. Note at the end of Ecclesiastes chapter 2 he says that “There is nothing better for a man, that that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.” (Eccelesiastes 2:24)

Once we bring God into the equation then there is a reason and a purpose to live. There is also profit in what we do for the Lord. This earth will burn one day and all that is in it will burn as well. But what we do for the Lord Jesus Christ will last throughout eternity. If we focus only on this life down here then you would come to the same conclusion that Solomon came to, but if you are saved and believe that Jesus Christ is coming again then there is hope and a promise of profit in the work that is done for him. Our goal should be to see everything we have as coming from the Lord and to please him in everything we do for this is our purpose (Revelation 4:11).

Some principles we see regarding work in the book of Ecclesiastes:

 1)  It has a time and a place (Ecclesiastes 3:17)

  • Note the verse says that God is going to judge the righteous and there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. This is echoed again in Ecclesiastes 11:9 & 12:14.
  • This will even be true for a saved person from the church age. At the judgment seat of Christ we are not judged in regards to salvation but we are judged for the things done in the body whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). If our works abide the fire then we will receive a reward if not we lose our rewards (1 Corinthians 3:9-15).
  • In the practical sense there is also a time for work and a time for not working. This is what has gotten lost in the present generation we live in. Many are lazy especially kids and want things given to them instead of earning them. When it is time to work we should work. Paul said if a man would work then he should eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). (I am not talking about people who legitimately cannot work, we are talking about people who are too lazy to work.)
  • We also see that we must prioritize when it comes to work. We cannot put our physical labor ahead of God. We must keep things in perspective. In the Old Testament man could work 6 days and the Sabbath was a day of rest. Now I realize that we are not under the Old Testament Law today but there is still a good principle in this that man needs rest and there must also be time devoted to worshipping and pleasing God.

2)  Hard work is good for you (Ecclesiastes 5:12)

  • Notice that the verse says that the sleep of a laboring man is sweet whether he eats little or much. Hard work is good for you. The harder you work in the day the easier it is to sleep at night.
  • How many people today could solve sleepless nights with some hard work during the day?  Some of the wealthiest people in the world cannot sleep at night. They are either worried about losing what they have or simply trying to figure out how to get more.
  • This will apply to both physical work and Spiritual work done for the Lord Jesus Christ. Work done for the Lord is hard because not only does it take mental and physical ability but you also have an adversary the devil opposing you at every turn.
  • Saved people should take special note here. If we are too lazy to do physical work chances are not going to accomplish much spiritually for the Lord. Remember when God chose someone in the bible to do something for him they were busy working when he called them.

3)  Whatsoever you do, do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

  • Life is very short and one day you will be dead. Then you will have no more opportunity to work. Therefore make the most out of whatever time you have.
  • We are a society of procrastinators’ especially young people. Just think why do the Post Offices stay open late on the tax deadline? Because everyone waits to the last minute.
  • Saved people should find something they can do for the Lord and do it with all their might and it doesn’t matter how big or small you think it is.
  • Nothing in life is worse than watching people who have the ability to great things do just enough to get by because they are lazy. What is the difference between a good athlete and a great athlete? Some would say talent. While it is true talent will get you by for a while, but what makes a great athlete is talent plus hard work.

4) Remember that God is in control (Ecclesiastes 9:1,11)

  • The first verse says that everyone’s works are in the hand of God. This means that God is in control. If he wants your works to prosper he can make them prosper and if not he can keep them from prospering. This could change the way we live if both saved and lost people would get a hold of this principle.
  • The second verse listed above says that time and chance happens to all. But remember if God is in control the would not time and chance be in his hand.
  • People have asked and wondered for centuries why is one man born rich and another born poor or why does one man’s business succeed and another’s fail. These question can drive us crazy but if we look to God and know that he is in control then we can be prosperous for him no matter what our position in life.

What is the life lesson for us here?

 Back in Ecclesiastes 3:15 we see a verse that tells us three things.

1)  That which hath been is now.

  • We must work for today because in reality there is no tomorrow. Have you ever heard the saying “tomorrow never comes”?
  • Today if we consider the work that is before us and say I will to it tomorrow then before we can even realize it is tomorrow. In other words what used to be tomorrow is now today.

2)  That which is to be hath already been.

  • If we are not careful then what we call tomorrow will actually become yesterday. Once again this is why we should work for today.

3)  God requires that which is past.

  • When God judges us he will not judge us on what we did not have an opportunity to do but he will judge on what we did have an opportunity to do.
  • If we don’t take an opportunity to do something for God we may not get another opportunity one never really knows. Once an opportunity is past it is past and that we cannot change. But we have to remember we will be judged for these opportunities.

Therefore in regards to these three things we see that we work hard every day in all that we do especially when doing something for the Lord.


How to Live (A Study in Ecclesiastes)

 Lesson #4 : Handout

Principles regarding work (Ecclesiastes 3:15-22)


1)  What have we seen regarding labor so far in this study?


2)  What are some important principles regarding work that we can see from the book of Ecclesiastes?


3)  What is the life lesson that we can see from this lesson?