Wisdom, Hard Work, Achievement

Surprised nerd student looking to textbook on math

© Nomad_Soul – Fotolia.com

[PART 7 OF 12]

In Solomon’s quest for meaning and purpose in life, money was not the answer. So he continued his search.

“Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 2:12)

That’s got to be worth something, right? I mean, pursuing wisdom and knowledge, that’s not even materialistic! Learning is good. Knowledge is power. Information is the industry of the future.

We go to school for most of our childhood and into our early adulthood to learn. Learning prepares us to take on the world. We are trained in the areas of language, mathematics, science, and literature. We learn how to read, and how to effectively communicate our thoughts and ideas through writing. We learn about the history of our country and of the world. Beyond high school, we begin to engage in specialized learning in preparation for a specific career. Our whole lives are built around learning.

It is noteworthy that Solomon was one of the wisest men who ever lived, and his wisdom was a gift from God Almighty (1 Kings 4:29-34). He was so wise that people came from all over the world just to hear him speak, and to learn from his wisdom.

But look at what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 2:15 concerning his wisdom.

“I said in my heart, ‘This too is meaningless’”.

And you can feel his frustration level, and perhaps yours as well, grow even deeper as the search for meaning and purpose come up empty once again.

So the search continues.

“So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 2:17-23)

OK, hard work and achievement have got to be good things. They are as American as apple pie and Chevrolet. Your Daddy always told you, “Son, if you want to achieve anything in this life, you’ve got to be willing to work hard and rely on yourself. Pull yourself up by your own boot straps.” You can’t argue with that, now, can you? It’s a foundation of American life, and it came straight from Dad.

And yet, Solomon said, “This too is meaningless.” Hard work is like “chasing after the wind”, because at some point you will die, and then all the things you worked so hard to accomplish will fall into someone else’s hands. Will that person place as much value as you place on the things into which you have poured your time and energy? Will he pick up where you left off and continue your pursuit of excellence? Or will he be a fool? Will he allow everything you have accomplished to simply fall by the wayside? That is certainly a possibility. And if that possibility becomes reality, then what good has it served for you to have worked so hard? “This too is meaningless and a great misfortune,” Solomon concludes.

So far, Solomon’s search for meaning has come up completely empty. Wealth is meaningless. Wisdom is meaningless. Hard work is meaningless. Achievement is meaningless. Every rock Solomon turns over, hoping to find a treasure, simply leads to more searching. At some point, will the searching itself even become meaningless?
Paul O'Rear Signature

This is Part 7 in a 12-part series entitled “The Meaning of Life”.
Part 1: “A Little Birdie Told Me
Part 2: “Oreo Cookies and the Meaning of Life
Part 3: “Introducing King Solomon
Part 4: “King Solomon and the Oreos
Part 5: “Something Worth Waking Up For
Part 6: “Cha-Ching!
Part 7: “Wisdom, Hard Work, Achievement”
Part 8: “Life is Good
Part 9: “Turn! Turn! Turn!
Part 10: “Injustice
Part 11: “Sorrow and Joy
Part 12: “The Conclusion

NEXT: “Life is Good

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  1. Surprised nerd student, by © Nomad_Soul (Fotolia), Used by permission.

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