Finding Balance in Life

Maintaining Balance in Life. Pt 1:  Work
Ecclesiastes 4:4-8
“One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after the wind.”

One of the gifts that God gave humanity was the gift of work.  Before the fall, God gave Adam and Eve the responsibility to care for the garden. However, just as sin corrupted our nature, it corrupted all creation.  Consequently, what God designed to be good and express our creative purpose became a source of frustration and futility.  Our labor would no longer be a joy; instead, it would become an arduous task, bringing frustration and anxiety.  Solomon recognizes three invaluable lessons in examining our work under the microscope of experience.

First, Solomon points to the competitive corruption of work.  Solomon already pointed out that work is a gift from God, but like all of God’s blessings, it can be corrupted by our sinful desires.  Work often becomes motivated by greed and envy.  Our desire to climb the corporate ladder leads to competition in which we are striving to outwork and outpace others.  Instead of rejoicing when others get a promotion, we become resentful because they received the advancement we desired.  Solomon thus warns of the excessive desire for success. The pursuit of wealth becomes meaningless. It leads to loneliness as the individual sacrifices his family to pursue a career.  At the end of his life, he pursued riches only to leave all his wealth to a stranger (vs. 8).  The quest for our careers distorts and distracts us from what is truly valuable and important: family and relationships.

Second, Solomon warns of the dangers of laziness. In contrast to the super-motivated-- sacrifice at all costs to get ahead--person is the person who is excessively lazy. While the one is obsessed with advancing, the other becomes a sluggard who does nothing. This will inevitably lead to poverty, not poverty because of oppression but poverty because of laziness. Paul would state that such a person should not expect help from others (2 Thess 3:1-12).

This brings us to the third and final point that Solomon drives home.  How do we balance the extremes of being overly obsessed with work or being plagued by laziness?  He provides the answer 6:  balance.  Through the book, Solomon repeatedly drives home the point that in a fallen and paradoxical world, the key to navigating life is to maintain a life of balance.  When we navigate in the realm of extremes, we will inevitably undermine God’s purpose.  This is true in our attitude towards work.  We must recognize that work is part of God’s plan for our lives, but it is not the only one.  Sin is not just the pursuit of evil; it is also the distortion of what is good by getting it out of balance.  Work is inherently good, but only with it is kept in balance with the other demands and responsibilities of life, such as the enjoyment of life,  the importance of family, and a life lived in obedience and worship of God.  To properly evaluate life, we need to look at life from the totality of God’s purpose.  We are called to worship and serve God (5:1-8)  and others (4:9-16). We are to value the importance of family and relationships.  We are to enjoy the life he has given us while recognizing the value of work.  A balanced life is one in which we realize that all are equally important, and when one becomes more important than the other, we are again striving after the wind.  Today, reflect upon the balance of your life and examine areas you may be over or under-emphasizing.  When we live in balance, we live in the context of God’s purpose and discover true meaning and substance in life.

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