Many of us chase the elusive carrot-on-a-stick. What we desire or want is just out of reach. We are motivated by discontent.
Once we're hooked by this motivation of discontent, it takes on subtle changes. There's the ubiquitous "Sale!" and BOGO lure. If I just spend a little more money, I can get so much more! After getting more, we need to rent a storage unit to warehouse all we have. We even shop at warehouse-type stores to get better deals on more things.
We put off vacations and personal leave, even sick days, to work a little harder, get more done, get a promotion, or gain greater status. But at what cost?
Then I thought, “Why do people work so hard?” I saw people try to succeed and be better than other people. They do this because they are jealous. They don’t want other people to have more than they have. This is senseless. It is like trying to catch the wind. Some people say, “It is foolish to fold your hands and do nothing. If you don’t work, you will starve to death.” Maybe that is true. But I say it is better to be satisfied with the few things you have than to always be struggling to get more. [vss 4-6]
Again I saw something else that didn’t make sense: I saw a man who has no family, not a son or even a brother. But he continues to work very hard. He is never satisfied with what he has. And he works so hard that he never stops and asks himself, “Why am I working so hard? Why don’t I let myself enjoy my life?” This is also a very bad and senseless thing. [vss 7-8]
Two people are better than one. When two people work together, they get more work done. If one person falls, the other person can reach out to help. But those who are alone when they fall have no one to help them. If two people sleep together, they will be warm. But a person sleeping alone will not be warm. An enemy might be able to defeat one person, but two people can stand back-to-back to defend each other. And three people are even stronger. They are like a rope that has three parts wrapped together—it is very hard to break. [vss 9-12]
(Ecclesiastes 4:4-12 ERV) [Context– Ecclesiastes 4]
Key phrase— ...better to be satisfied with the few things you have than...struggling to get more
[bctt tweet="...better to be satisfied with the few things you have than...struggling to get more"]
What seems to be the motivation for working so hard? What is this likened to?
What is stated as a better alternative than working and struggling to get more?
What question does the single person who works hard never seem to ask themselves?
In what ways are two people better than one? What do you think this is emphasizing?
When we are driven by ambition or jealousy, we'll never be satisfied or content. Greed and envy are terrible tyrants who will never be appeased.
(US) Americans, more than any other western people, are driven by insatiable appetites, and it's made us unhealthy. God established the Sabbath rest for a reason. We need caffeine and other drugs to keep us going, then we need other drugs to slow us down and sleep.
The carrot remains out of reach. Why? Life in many parts of the world revolves around people and events, not work. And, in general, it's a healthier, more content lifestyle.
When will we see the need to get off the treadmill or hamster wheel, to enjoy a simple and contented life?
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions
What motivates you in your life and work? Are you content with your work and life?
What place do people play in your life? Are relationships more of a priority to you than work? If not, why not?
What do you enjoy most in your life? Why?
Who is important in your life? How do these relationships benefit you in your daily life?