READ: Ecclesiastes 2:18-23; 4:4-6
By now the reader is prepared for the Preacher’s spirit and perspective. After pronouncing that both pleasure and wisdom are futile, Qohelet says that work is also empty. At this point in the paragraph, it’s actually not the work itself that has no meaning, it’s that Solomon has no control of what happens to the fruit of his work. The loose paraphrase is, “Who knows that the one who inherits it all won’t be a yo-yo?”
In Solomon’s day, the oldest son would get the inheritance. There could be exceptions, but they would be rare. Today, the laborer has far more control over what happens to what he’s (she’s) amassed. But even the most carefully created codicil can’t prevent the heir from being an idiot. Once we are gone, we have no control over what happens to what we leave behind. The writer of Ecclesiastes finds that “like striving after wind.”
But it’s not merely that you can’t control what the next person will do with your inheritance, it’s that you don’t get to enjoy the fruit of your own labor. Solomon doesn’t explain why that would be the case. Obviously, whoever earns the wealth has the option of spending it rather than leaving it. Yet we all know that we have to have something saved because we don’t know how long we’ll have to live. So most laborers are going to leave something to someone for the future.
- Who will get what you leave? How confident are you in their ability to handle it well?
- Describe your plans for the wealth you leave behind. Does it include Kingdom endeavors?
- Is your goal to leave a large inheritance or spend down what you’ve earned to come as close to zero at your death as possible? Why?
PRAY: If you are (were) able to work, thank God for that privilege. Pray for the wisdom to manage wisely what you earn. Commit yourself to being a good steward of your wealth.