by Pauline Simonsen
Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.
It is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil (Ecclesiastes 3:13).
Cleaning the toilet – beautiful work? You must be kidding!
As we read today’s verses from Ecclesiastes, we realise that the parable of the rich man in our gospel reading for this week (Luke 12:13ff) is Jesus’ commentary on Ecclesiastes. The rich man in Jesus’ parable worked hard to gather and store wealth, only to hand it over to God and others when he died suddenly. His acquisition and consumption were meaningless, a fruitless chasing after the wind (to quote Ecclesiastes).
In contrast, doing the work God has given us to do in our lives, knowing that because it’s work from God, it is good – beautiful, even – and leads to deep satisfaction and joy. Even if the work is cleaning toilets, tending a teething baby, marking the next student assignment, seeing a difficult client, or turning the tractor for the next furrow … Because God ‘has made everything beautiful in its time’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Due to the fall, back in Genesis 3, work became a burden for us. But God redeems that burden through Jesus’ work for us on the cross. Our God-given vocations are beautiful works – even eternal works – because God dignifies them. Because Christ is in us, doing it with us.
And when our work is done each day, we can rest, eat and drink and be glad because this rest, like the good work before it, is all a gift from God.
Working simply to chase wealth – acquiring and accumulating and consuming – this work is exhausting, uncertain and finally empty. It never brings peace. But the good work Jesus calls each of us to, in our different places and vocations, is a source of joy and fulfilment. It’s our offering to God, our bodies being living sacrifices as our act of worship.
And God takes our small, imperfect acts of service – our work – and sanctifies and completes it for us – his power perfected in our weakness. And that work stands forever.
Whatever you do today, let your work be an offering back to the God who gave it to you, who gave you the abilities and time to do it. The God who delights in your offering and in you.
Lord Jesus, take my work today, whatever it is, and receive it as a sign of my love and gratitude towards you. Fill my work with your perfect power so that it blesses others and honours you. And give me sweet rest at the end of my work today. Thank you, beloved Master.
Pauline is a Bible college teacher and spiritual director in Palmerston North, New Zealand. She’s married to Roger – who is recently retired – and she says she enjoys having him home a bit more! When she gets some free time, Pauline loves cooking and reading and likes nothing better than sitting with a cat on her lap and watching the birds in her garden.