A Warning to Workaholics
“All man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied. What advantage has a wise man over a fool? What does a poor man gain by knowing how to conduct himself before others?" Ecclesiastes 6:7-8
“His appetite is never satisfied.” The Hebrew word translated “appetite” may also be translated as “soul.” This is yet another reminder by Solomon that we were made for more than food. A man may get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, and then do the same thing for the next 50 years. After that he retires to Arizona, plays golf, and then he dies. So what? His soul has not been satisfied by anything he has done. He dies unfulfilled even though his friends said nice things about him at his funeral.
Consider the modern term workaholic. It refers to those people who are addicted to their work. For them, work is life and the more they work, the better they feel. Here are three telltale signs of workaholism: First, your total energy is given to your work so that you have nothing left to give at home. Second, you constantly think about your work even when you are not at work. Third, you find it difficult to relax when you are away from your work.
Workaholics generally are Type A personalities: Committed, aggressive, demanding, perfectionistic, goal-oriented, high achievers, impatient with weakness, easily frustrated, with enough stamina to work 12 hours a day six (or seven) days a week. They love the long hours and the high pressure job. One man said, “I don’t know how I got rich. I only worked half-days: the first half or the second half.”
From God’s point of view workaholics make three fundamental mistakes. To be more specific, they believe three heretical ideas:
1. “It all depends upon me.”
2. “If I don’t do it, nobody else will.”
3. “My worth depends upon my work.”
Like all heresies, there is a grain of truth in each statement. Work is good. It was created by God for the benefit of the human race (Genesis 2:15). But to believe that your worth depends upon your work is to deny the truth of the grace of God. Workaholics are simply repeating the Galatian heresy—that we are saved by grace but kept by works. (See Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 3:3).
The truth is, it all depends upon God. Everyone comes to that conclusion sooner or later. Unfortunately, some people have to die to find it out. Happy are those who understand the difference between living to work and working to live.
Lord God, when I am tempted to take matters into my own hands, grant that I may remember that your way is always best. Amen.