The editors of the Sabbath School quarterly pulled a subtle trick with their title for this lesson, “The Christian and Work.” For each of the four lessons before this, the title included the word “education.” Is the quarterly subtly supporting the popular conception that a good education diminishes the need for hard work?
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/sabbath-school/2020/education-diminishing-value-work
While Ecclesiastes affirms work in the way you describe and views work as superior to the alternative of laziness, it is also deeply ambivalent towards work. Work is inherently disappointing (Ec 6:7), comes with an opportunity cost (4:8) and is motivated by envy (4:4).
Any work ethic faces problems of maintaining inequality, being promoted to a level of incompetence, and displacement of other valuable ways to spend time. Although not discussed in the lesson, these problems were well known to the author of Ecclesiastes.
When I was just starting my work career, someone gave me a book, “The Christian Employee”. The basic idea was that God invented work as the calling for most of us ( the not-independently wealthy), and work would be the best place for witness and evangelism through day to day honesty, integrity, and faithfulness. No need to go out on Sabbath afternoon and hand out tracts, conduct Rev seminars, etc. This advice helped me all the years of my working life, from the front lines to the CEO office, and then stepping down having found a wonderful successor. Work is our proving ground and preparation space for the kingdom (and no job too small!).
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