Why is hard work a good thing?

Here’s a question. Do you value hard work? Many of us would say yes, though of course a person can abuse work and end up neglecting family and God.

But here’s the difficult question. Why is hard work a good thing?

Consider the parable of the seven pots of gold.

The king’s barber is walking under a tall tree when suddenly he hears a voice. “Do you want to have the 7 pots of gold?” The barber can’t see anyone and suddenly realizes he is talking to a spirit.

“Of course I do!” he exclaims and races home.

Sure enough, there in his house are seven pots of gold. But the seventh pot is only half full. He borrows gold from his friends and even sells his valuables but no matter how much gold he gets and pours into the seventh pot, it magically remains only half full.

He goes to the king and demands a raise in salary. To his surprise, the king gladly doubles his salary. But the barber remains unhappy. No matter how much gold he pours into his last pot, it remains only half full.

The king notices how sad the barber has become and calls him to the castle. “Tell me, my friend, do you have the 7 pots of gold?”

The barber is surprised the king would know and asks him about it. The king replies that he too was offered the pots, but was bothered about the way the spirit asked the question, “Do you want to have the seven pots of gold?”

The king asked if he could have the 7 pots or would he get to spend them and the spirit shrieked and fled. The king’s advice was simple. You can never have enough gold. Give the pots away and be happy. The barber did, and lived happily ever after.

Why do we work hard? If your answer is simply to get more, you will never be able to fill up your last pot.

The Bible tells of just such a man. In the Old Testament the writer of Ecclesiastes tells of a man who worked 24/7 to get wealth for himself and had no one to share it with. He concluded the man’s money never brought him contentment and that it was, and I quote, “a miserable business,” Ecclesiastes 4:7-8.

Why do we work hard? If your answer is to give more, your pots will always be full enough and you will find happiness.

In the New Testament Paul speaks of the value of hard work and says it is so we can help others, Acts 20:32-35.

There is a flow built into God’s universe. Good things are meant to come into our lives so that we can enjoy them and share them with others. When the rewards of hard work are shared, they are doubled, not halved. Spend your money on relationships and memories and helping others and not on stuff if you want to be happy. The seventh pot can never be filled.

Rick Cupp is the minister at the Kenai Fellowship Church.

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