After Qoheleth realizes that all of our work crumbles to dust, “all is vanity and a chasing after the wind,” you‘d think that he’d say work is pointless. Avoid it. Instead, he urges enthusiastic, vigorous engagement in work: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in the underworld, to which you are going” (9:10). Qoheleth is telling us to enjoy our work as an end in itself. If it is something we do in order to get something else, then we will be frustrated. Most of the trouble we get into with our work is when we fail to keep it in its proper place. Our work becomes who we are; it defines us. We secure ourselves through our work. This makes our work into an idol. And, as we know, all idols lead to trouble. God said, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Ex 20:4-5). Work is not meant to be made into an idol, something that gets in the way of our relationship with God. Instead, it is one of the gracious things God gives us to do while we are on the earth. The results of our work may not last forever, but our work can still be active, joyous creation – as long as we keep it in its proper place.
FULL SERMON HERE