Ecclesiastes 2:18: “Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me.” Wow, it seems like there is both an element of wisdom and and an element of selfishness in that statement. The theme of these next six verses is that of leaving behind your work to someone else.
Verse 19 contains some truth concerning the prior statement: “And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool?” So Solomon doesn’t know what will happen to everything that he has done, and therefore he says, “This also is vanity,” and he “despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun.”
Solomon has a good point, but at the same time, he seems somewhat selfish. After all, what can he do with all that stuff anyway after he dies? But to his credit, it is kind of discouraging to spend your life working for something that someone else will just ruin and waste after you’re gone.
All the more reason to do things that last for eternity. First of all, things that are done with an eternal purpose will obviously accomplish an eternal purpose. Not even a foolish person can ruin the things that a wise person leaves behind if those things are eternally focused.
Secondly, is it truly possible to leave something behind if it was done for God? The things that are done for God will count for eternity, and only the temporal things of the earth will be left behind.
I don’t have time to develop this, but the fact remains that we don’t truly have to be afraid of “losing” any of our work to the foolishness of someone else if we do everything to the glory of God. Solomon faced despair over potentially losing the things for which he had labored because many of the things that he did in life were truly pointless and vain.
“For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun? For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity.” -Ecclesiastes 2:22-23
If you toil today
For things which are vain,
They will all pass away,
All that you did attain.
Leaving your toil
To some other one,
May end up in spoil,
Then what can be done?
But do what you will
With heaven in mind.
Your work will last still