What is the Legacy of Our Labors to be?
I hated all my work at which I labored under the sun because I must leave it to the man who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will take over all the work that I labored at skillfully under the sun. This too is futile. So I began to give myself over to despair concerning all the work I had labored at under the sun. For there is a man whose work was done with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, but he must give his portion to a man who has not worked for it. This too is futile and a great wrong. For what does a man get with all his work and all his efforts that he labors with under the sun? For all his days are filled with grief, and his occupation is sorrowful; even at night, his mind does not rest. This too is futile.
There is nothing better for a man than to eat, drink, and to enjoy his work. I have seen that even this is from God’s hand. For who can eat and who can enjoy life apart from Him? For to the man who is pleasing in His sight, He gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy, but to the sinner, He gives the task of gathering and accumulating in order to give to the one who is pleasing in God’s sight. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind. Eccl 2:18-26 (HCSB)
In history, there are many great kings, emperors, and rulers of vast dynasties that are well known. But, what happened after they passed away? What happened to their kingdoms and empires after their day in the sun had ended? What happened after others took over the legacy of fame and fortune left behind? Many collapsed and faded away into the grips of likewise foolish kings, emperors, and rulers who followed.
What caused their sad demise? Most often history revealed either sons or grandsons assumed the reins of power but stumbled and bumbled what had been built by the hard work and labors of their father or grandfather before them.
Solomon was one such ruler. He received the Kingdom of Israel from his father, King David, and managed to hold onto the greatness of Israel as a nation until the end of his reign, but soon after strife and conflict rumbled throughout the kingdom. In the end, his successors fought over the kingdom and it split in two. The once-great Kingdom of Israel spiraled downward until within 200-300 years its collapsed in total devastation. If Solomon wrote this passage did he have a premonition as to what would happen in the future?
So the question arises: Why should we work so hard in this lifetime to build something when it likely will fall apart after we are gone? Will history be kind to our legacy? Should we care?
My father built a great company, but after he retired late in life, the business was sold and resold again by others. Outside of the family, my father’s legacy has slowly faded into a distant memory. The family remembers but none could dare match the fire or drive of our father. So what purpose did the legacy of his labors serve?
The good news is this: In the grand scheme of life, God uses others at the right time to pick up the pieces of others for His greater purposes, using the right person(s) to rebuild the labor of love for the greater good. Yet, though we will inevitably be long gone, we can trust that God will pass onto the future generation the same God’s grace that we enjoyed in our lifetime.
What will be the legacy of your labors? What greater good did your legacy serve? What greater purpose has your labor in this life served? Or, have you only lived a life that is like the wind – here today and gone tomorrow, leaving no trace, no footprints for others to follow? That would be meaningless.
Fame and fortune should not be the focus of your legacy. They will fade, but a legacy of love and devotion that inspires others who follow can never lose its value over time. Thanks, Pop.
The legacy of my father and his father inspired me to write my Shiloh Mystery novels. Much of my father’s and grandfather’s shared wisdom is reflected in the stories. Visit TMBrownAuthor.com