I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4-6
As most things in life, work started off as a gift from the Lord Genesis 2:15 but was soon turned to a necessary evil as a result of the fall Genesis 3:17-19 The fall tends to distort most good, God-given things as is the case with working just for the sake of one-upping your friends or keeping up with the Jones’.
We are cautioned to search our hearts for intentions of our deeds and to also understand our limits, especially when work is taking us away from our relationships with God, family, friends, and the Church Exodus 20:8
A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. Ecclesiastes 4:12
The teacher ties in the vanity and friendlessness in an interesting manner. I do not believe he means friendlessness to be synonymous with loneliness as he talks about the help that comes from friendship in verses 9 through 12. It is also a good reminder to be equally yoked to those whom we chose to spend our time with 1 Corinthians 6:14
Verse 13 is noteworthy as the teacher writes that a wise person with no power is better off than a foolish king who cannot receive instruction. As we get older and have gained the experiences we discussed in Chapter 1, it can be easy to mark ourselves “expert” next to certain happenings.
We must always be open to the wise counsel of our godly mentors, employers, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit itself.
Reflect: Do you surround yourself with likeminded friends? How can you work and make friends with Christians and non-Christians alike?
Act: Make an extra effort to peacefully coexist with someone you would not necessarily want to.