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Pastor Shane Ham : What Is Worth Doing?

Big Questions · 33:27 · Recorded April 11, 2021

What Is Worth Doing?

Ecclesiastes 1:1 (NLT2) These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.

Ecclesiastes 2:17-26 (NIV) 17So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless. 24A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26To 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.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV) What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Is a life of “work” worth it?

Ecclesiastes 2:17-18 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.‬

Ecclesiastes 2:4-9 (NIV) 4I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7…I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well–the delights of the heart of man. 9I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me.

– We expect work to bring us internal satisfaction.

Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 (NIV) 22What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest.

– We expect work to give us recognition.

Ecclesiastes 4:4-8 (NIV) 4And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 5The fool folds his hands and ruins himself. 6Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. 7Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: 8There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless– a miserable business!

– We expect work to make a contribution.

What is worth it?

– The life that is “worth it” is a gift from God.

– It’s the pleasure of God you need.

Ecclesiastes 2:26 God may give wisdom and knowledge and joy to his favorites, but sinners are assigned a life of hard labor, and end up turning their wages over to God’s favorites. Nothing but smoke—and spitting into the wind.‬

Zephaniah 3:14, 17 (NLT2) “Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! … For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

– It’s the “rest” of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 11:28-29 (NRSV) “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

  • The word for “meaningless” can also mean “breath” or “vapor.” What, then is meant when Solomon says, “All of it is meaningless”?
  • Look up Mark 8:36. How does this verse tie to or parallel what Solomon is writing in Ecclesiastes?
  • For what have you spent your life laboring? What do you have to show for it? What would you like to be remembered for long after you are gone? Are you on track for that or are there changes you can make today?
  • Reread Ecclesiastes 2:17-26.
  • Why did he hate life?
  • Who is said to be the real beneficiary of someone’s work? Why is that?
  • How do verses 24-26 contrast with the preceding?
  • What does it mean to “please God” in this context?
  • What does God have to do with satisfaction in work?
  • Who is “the sinner”? Why does God favor the one over the other?
  • Think of what Shane was talking about as he discussed Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 as you consider these questions: 1. What does Solomon say is the primary motivation for mankind? 2. What is the meaning of each of the proverbs found in verses 5 & 6? What do they imply is Solomon’s view of labor and competition? Do you currently have “one handful” or “two”?
  • Have you accepted the “rest” of Jesus? If not, what’s stopping you from stepping off the craziness of a life of work or achievement and into a place of peace and rest? Use you Connection Card to let us know how to pray for you or come talk to us in the Lounge any Sunday after service.
  • Parents – Check out the information on our kid’s page at northpointe.org/kids where you’ll find info on Sunday services and family resources to help you as you navigate this current season.

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