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Biblical vocabulary: the word מְנוּחָה (rest)

What is our motivation to work hard?

“Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:4)

Ecclesiastes continues its observations. Today’s text says that all toil comes from a man’s envy of his neighbor. In other words: much work is done out of wrong motives. Somebody works hard to jump ahead of his colleagues and get the best position while another toils to earn enough money to buy the nicest house in town and show off with it, or maybe to compete with his rival’s business and bring it to ruin. All this, Ecclesiastes says, is also vanity and a striving after wind. It will never bring us lasting joy. As Proverbs 14:30 says: “a tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot”. There will always be someone else who has more money, who has a better job, or whose business is more successful than ours. An envious heart never finds rest.

Hebrews 13:5 presents a better alternative: ‘Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”’

Is your heart filled with thankfulness or with envy?

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Grietje Commelin

Grietje studied theology and mastered in Bible Translation. Next to being a mother, she supports GlobalRize by writing bible reflections and other content for GlobalRize.

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