Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of life that God has given him--for this is his lot.
I. THE GOOD THINGS OF THIS WORLD COME FROM GOD. It is God's earth which provides our sustenance; it is God's creative wisdom that provides our companionships; it is God who gives us power to acquire, to use, and to enjoy his gifts. All is from God.
II. THE ENJOYMENT OF THINGS IN THEMSELVES GOOD IS INTENDED, AND APPOINTED BY DIVINE WISDOM AND GOODNESS. They were mot given to tempt or to curse man, but to gladden his heart and to enrich his life. Benevolence is the impulse of the Divine nature. God is "good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works."
III. THE ENJOYMENT OF THESE GOOD THINGS MAY BE RENDERED THE OCCASION OF FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD AND THANKSGIVING TO GOD. Thus even the common things of earth may be glorified and made beautiful by their devotion to the highest of all purposes. Through them the Giver of all may be praised, and the heart of the grateful recipient may be raised to fellowship with "the Father of the spirits of all flesh."
IV. THE ABUSE OF GOD'S GOOD GIFTS IS OWING TO HUMAN ERROR AND SIN. They are so often abused that it is not to be wondered at that men come to think them evil in themselves. But in such cases, the blame lies not with the Giver, but with the recipient, who turns the very honey into gall. - T.
It is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour.
I. THE RIGHTS OF LABOUR.
1. Has not the labourer a right to expect some degree of pleasure in his labour? To some this may seem somewhat fanciful, but they cannot deny its justness. To eat, to drink, to sleep, to think, to speak, are pleasurable sensations; why should so natural and necessary a function as toil be otherwise? Yet we know it is to many. Multitudes are brutalized by work, simply because they find no satisfaction in it. They work in order to live, and die in order to find rest.
2. Equally just is it for Labour to assert its right to an honest reward. Adam Smith, in his "Wealth of Nations," got to the root of the wage question when he said that the wages of labour were the fruits of labour. And the writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes, had he been able to hear that sentiment, would have said "Amen! for it is his portion." Amid the complex tangle of modern mercantile transactions it would be an impossibility to assign to the hand-worker the exact product of his individual labour, after deducting the wages of the brain-worker who designs, organizes, or superintends, and the other expenses involved in production. But should it not be the striving of a Christian employer to secure to every worker as near an approximation to his true reward as can be ascertained? Should it not be frowned upon as a deadly sin for men to grow rich on "the hire of the labourers, which they keep back by fraud"?
3. Further, it is surely Labour's right to have the fullest liberty in seeking these ends. The work done by our trade unions is a splendid monument to the sturdy self-restraint of the workers, and whilst in the future the principles taught and the methods adopted by them may undergo considerable change, yet the intelligent association of men for purposes of educating public opinion, and influencing the legislature will remain the most effective of means for realizing Labour's ideals.
II. THE DUTIES OF LABOUR. Let Labour, whilst seeking for justice to itself, seek to deal justly with others. If "capital" be the miserable abstraction of which the proverb says it has "neither soul to save, nor heart to feel, nor body to kick," it is no reason why workers should deal unfairly with the individual "capitalist," who often is as much the victim of an evil social system as the worker himself. If it be the maxim of commerce to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest, blind to all considerations as to whether thereby one obeys or disobeys the law of Christ; if to take advantage of a brother's necessity is not condemned as a breach of commercial ethics, there is no justification whatever for any worker adopting similar principles in his life work. Because a man does not believe in the justice of our present system of doing business, it is no reason why he should play ducks and drakes with his employer. Assuming that the principle of competition is a cruelly oppressive one, and that many employers are heartless tyrants, a sensible worker will, nevertheless, while those evil conditions remain — and they may for some time yet — make the best he can of them. To worry employers for concessions that it would be suicidal to grant is, at best, a short-sighted policy. Better to attack the system to which both masters and men are victims. Employers of labour are sometimes made unnecessarily hard by the foolishness and inconsiderateness of workers. It may, for instance, be quite legitimate for a mill-hand to grumble over the poorness of his pay, but the justice of his plea becomes miserably weakened when he "plays" for a couple of days when work is abundant, with the consequence that that work is driven elsewhere. It may be quite lawful for a man to take a holiday at any time he pleases, but not expedient. Even in such a matter the higher law of brotherliness should prevail. In the ranks of manual labour, though not these exclusively, we find a lamentable "want of thought," which in its results is often as bad as "want of heart." It has been asserted that the British workman is the hardest of all masters when he reaches that position; that in his co-operative societies his "divvy" is often larger than it should be because of underpaid labour. Not difficult would it be to prove that the overwork of multitudes of shop assistants is caused by thoughtless working-folk who "shop" late when it would be as easy to "shop" early. A man's religion is seen in the byways of conduct, and if in these movements he is not above suspicion, he loses all claim to be called a Christian, for the spirit of Christ's Gospel says, "Deal with all men as with your brother, as with children of God, whose necessity is your sorrow, whose strength is your joy."
(T. A. Leonard.).
TopicsBeautiful, Behold, Comely, Drink, During, Eat, Enjoy, Enjoyment, Fair, Fitting, Giveth, Joy, Labor, Laboreth, Labors, Labour, Laboureth, Lot, Meat, One's, Oneself, Pleasure, Portion, Proper, Reward, Satisfaction, Taketh, Toil, Toils, Toilsome, Wherein, Wherewith, Yea
Outline1. vanities in divine service
8. in murmuring against oppression
9. and in riches
18. Joy in riches is the gift of God.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEcclesiastes 5:18
LibraryNaked or Clothed?
'As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.'--ECCLES. v. 15. '... Their works do follow them.'--REV. xiv. 13. It is to be observed that these two sharply contrasted texts do not refer to the same persons. The former is spoken of a rich worldling, the latter of 'the dead who die in the Lord.' The unrelieved gloom of the one is as a dark background against which the triumphant assurance of …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Lessons for Worship and for Work
Things to be Meditated on as Thou Goest to the Church.
Ninth Day for God's Spirit on Our Mission Work
Thoughts Upon Worldly-Riches. Sect. Ii.
There is a Blessedness in Reversion
How to be Admonished are those who Give Away what is their Own, and those who Seize what Belongs to Others.
Covenanting Confers Obligation.
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