What's the Point? (A Study in Ecclesiastes: Part 2)



Once upon a time, a boy from a poor Dutch family lived in New York City. He multiplied one boat into a shipping and railroad empire through hard work and toil. He gained for himself every advantage that wealth and success could earn him. When he died in 1877, “the Commodore” was the richest man in America. Had he lived, he would have watched his children and grandchildren live in luxury, build magnificent mansions, flaunt their wealth, and elevate their status to the highest in society. And he would have watched as everything he built disappeared- by the 1950s and 60s, the money was all but gone, the mansions and buildings mostly sold or torn down. Cornelius Vanderbilt’s rise was legendary. His descendants’ fall was almost as brilliant.

Imagine Cornelius, cigar in hand, sitting down with Q. And Q asks, “What did you gain by all the toil at which you toiled under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3). The Commodore doesn’t respond. He just blows smoke rings and watches them disappear…

Ask Yourself: Do you know anything about your ancestors’ toil? What did they gain? How has it lasted? What do your work and toil gain for you? How will it last?

Pause to Pray: Lord, guard my heart again, working just for gain, just for success, just for wealth. Those are not the things that last. Teach me what is truly significant. Show me what will last…

Take the Next Step: If you’re still in the work world- ask someone who has retired to reflect on their life’s work. What did they learn about success and significance? If you are retired- sit down with a friend and talk about what you both have learned.