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A God-Given Portion

“Behold, I saw that which is good and which is beautiful — it is to eat and to drink and to see the goodness of all his anxiety for which he works hard under the sun for the number of days of his life which God has given him — for it is his portion.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:17 {5:18 in English Bibles})

In the west, fewer and fewer professions demand genuine tradesmen. Manufacturing is highly automated or is done through repetitive activities on an assembly line. Much of the construction that is done consists of tract housing and even in my former trade of carpet installing, so much of that is basic covering a floor with the carpet being “flat and fuzzy side up” and not a lot of fancy borders or inset designs. Custom craftsmanship requires time and skill but sadly most people either cannot afford or do not wish to pay for skilled craftsmanship.

Currently our church is having its stained glass windows redone — they are 90 years old and the lead is breaking down — here is an instance where all the craftsmanship is done by hand as they must custom remake every piece of lead which mounts the colored glass in place — none of which are regular and none of which can be automated. It is taking a bit longer than we expected going into the project, but at the same time, we can see the pride in craftsmanship taken by those involved in the process. 

There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from a completed job that has been done well — when you have crafted something with your own hands which is distinct from all other things. And this is an experience that much of our society does not relate to…sadly, in many cases, jobs never seem to come to an end, but just continue on week after week, month after month, and year after year — and then we wonder why people are anxious to retire and don’t feel like there is a lot of meaning in their labors.

Solomon has addressed this before and will come back to this theme again, but his simple answer is that since we do not know how many days our God has given us in this world — take satisfaction in the things you accomplish and in the provision that you earn from those labors. In the end, that will bring joy to your life; it is your portion in life — make the most of it. 

Solomon on Income Inequality

“Also, every man to whom God has given wealth and affluence and the opportunity to eat from them and to take his portion and to rejoice in his anxieties — this is his gift from God.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:18 {5:19 in English Bibles})

It seems to me that people today are talking a lot about what they call “income inequality.” What they mean by that statement varies from person to person, but in the broadest sense, it simply means that some people have more money than others. And, were this a simple observation, it would not get a lot of press or excitement. Where it gets press and excitement is that there are some who think that they can change the scales, as it were, and take money from some to give it to others as a way of leveling the playing field. Of course, when the government mandates this, that is a form of socialism and socialism, as a political and economic movement, has been one of the most oppressive and murderous movements in the history of mankind (and normally creates an even greater distance between the “haves” and the have-nots” as it eliminates the middle class). 

Yet, that goes beyond our purpose as we look at this verse. Here, if you wish to view Solomon’s perspective on Income Inequality, we find it right here. Some will be poor and work hard for the bread they eat and others will be successful. This, Solomon says, is God’s doing — it is our portion in life, so enjoy what God has provided and give him thanks for it. With both wealth and poverty come advantages and challenges; make the most of them and glorify God in them. Don’t try and use power to steal from those who have more — theft is a sin as is covetousness. 

So, while some in our society will always rail against the wealthy, as Christians, let us hear the wisdom of Solomon and not be tempted into sin and evil. And, one of the glorious things about the American society is that for those who are willing to work hard and to sacrifice, there are always opportunities to work your way up from one economic class to another. In addition, when the free-market system in America is working the way it is supposed to do, then those who are lazy, corrupt, or who seek to manipulate the system always have the opportunity to lose everything, falling from one economic class to a lower one. That too may be our lot. Use it to the glory of God.

Satisfaction in Your Work is a Good Gift

“Behold, I saw that which is good and which is beautiful — it is to eat and to drink and to see the goodness of all his anxiety for which he works hard under the sun for the number of days of his life which God has given him — for it is his portion.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:17 {5:18 in English Bibles})

In the west, fewer and fewer professions demand genuine tradesmen. Manufacturing is highly automated or is done through repetitive activities on an assembly line. Much of the construction that is done consists of tract housing and even in my former trade of carpet installing, so much of that is basic covering a floor with the carpet being “flat and fuzzy side up” and not a lot of fancy borders or inset designs. Custom craftsmanship requires time and skill but sadly most people either cannot afford or do not wish to pay for skilled craftsmanship.

Currently our church is having its stained glass windows redone — they are 90 years old and the lead is breaking down — here is an instance where all the craftsmanship is done by hand as they must custom remake every piece of lead which mounts the colored glass in place — none of which are regular and none of which can be automated. It is taking a bit longer than we expected going into the project, but at the same time, we can see the pride in craftsmanship taken by those involved in the process. 

There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from a completed job that has been done well — when you have crafted something with your own hands which is distinct from all other things. And this is an experience that much of our society does not relate to…sadly, in many cases, jobs never seem to come to an end, but just continue on week after week, month after month, and year after year — and then we wonder why people are anxious to retire and don’t feel like there is a lot of meaning in their labors.

Solomon has addressed this before and will come back to this theme again, but his simple answer is that since we do not know how many days our God has given us in this world — take satisfaction in the things you accomplish and in the provision that you earn from those labors. In the end, that will bring joy to your life; it is your portion in life — make the most of it.