“For he who is joined with all the living is confident, for to be a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die and there is nothing that the dead know; they no longer have wages because the memory of them has been forgotten. Further, their love and even their hatred and envy has already perished. Forever and ever they have no share in what is done under the sun.”
Again, the emphasis of Solomon’s language here is “under the sun.” Though a person’s soul lives forever, some to glory and others to eternal punishment, when we die and our bodies are laid in the grave, we no longer have ownership in what is done “under the sun.” The good things we do as well as the bad things will eventually be forgotten. Indeed, for some it will take longer than for others, nevertheless, in time each and every one of us will be little more than a name on a tombstone and if the Lord tarries sufficiently long, even our tombstones will crumble into dust.
To some, this may be depressing. We look at our lives and we realize how many things we have not yet accomplished but that we would yet like to do. I look at my own “bucket list” of things to do and recognize that it is pretty extensive. Yet, I too am reminded by Solomon that what it is that we do here will be forgotten — and I remember the words of the Apostle Paul that the things of heaven are utterly better than even the best of things on earth.
But does that mean we ought not bother striving to accomplish things on earth? Of course not. The question we must ask, though, when building things on earth is: “For whose Kingdom am I laboring?” If you are laboring for your own kingdom, you labor in vain. It will pass away into dust and be forgotten. If you labor for Christ’s Kingdom, that is different. For while you and me will pass away and be forgotten, the Kingdom of Christ will last forever (2 Peter 1:11). And thus, while our contributions to that Kingdom will be forgotten, the fruit of those contributions will last — all to the glory of our great God and King, Jesus.