Benjamin Franklin is one of the most frequently quoted figures in the American culture. I have even heard his quotes being mistakenly considered as biblical quotations. He’s the one that said “cleanliness is next to godliness.” 02 profitIt’s interesting to observe however, that his most famous quotes have a profit motif. He was a great capitalist. He said, “Nothing but money is sweeter than honey.” He said, “Beware of small expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” He said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Another subject he was an expert on was hard work. He said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” He was a very successful business man, politician and inventor.

When you begin your journey through the book of Ecclesiastes you find a man with similar interests. He refers to himself as the “preacher” or maybe “the teacher.” In Ecclesiastes 1:3 he puts the two principles of work and money together and says, “What does it profit a man for the hard work he does under the sun?” This question is repeated several times in the book and the idea of getting something for your work comes up over a dozen times in the book. The assumed answer each time is “nothing!” Man gets nothing for his hard work and labor under the sun. The conclusion is obvious that all our efforts are meaningless and senseless. But once again there is that short phrase “under the sun” we must not overlook.

The phrase “under the sun” has been translated numerous ways. It’s a unique phrase found only in the book of Ecclesiastes. The United Bible Societies Handbook for translators gives several ways it might be translated but says, “However, the real meaning of the phrase can also be conveyed by the phrase ‘in this life’”. The conclusion is clear. From the perspective we have in this life is that there is no true profit to be acquired in all our work. Yet, as the UBS handbook goes on to say, “Later on he will conclude that there is no lasting benefit here on earth, by which he may be suggesting that there is one beyond this life.” As I closed my devotion yesterday, let me say it again. There is more to life than what meets the eye under the sun. After Paul discussed the validity of the resurrection of the dead, life above the sun, he closes his argument in 1 Corinthians 15:58 (New Living Translation), by saying, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”